Gay marriage and samesex civil unions in Italy

The shots. The story

Thu 26 Jan, 2023

What is same sex marriage

There are countless more or less philosophical questions, to which we have always struggled to give a precise answer:
Do the aliens exist?
Do animals have memory?
Why if I'm buttering a slice of bread and it falls out of my hand, does it end up on the floor just butter side up?
Or, as we ask ourselves today in a much less philosophical way: can two people of the same sex get married in Italy?
The ambivalent and unsettling answer is precisely the following: neither yes nor no.

Maybe it's better to shed some light on this issue, because you know, the devil is always hiding in the details.
As far as our country is concerned, law n° 76, also known as the Cirinnà law of 20 May 2016, allows same-sex couples to choose to legalize their love and their status as a couple through the civil union. The question, however, is precisely this: the civil union is not equivalent in all respects to a marriage. It regulates certain aspects related to the relationship between two people of the same sex, but not from the point of view of rights.
It's correct to say that gay couples can get married in Italy, but it is equally correct to state that a civil union does not include all the rights (as well as the duties) envisaged by a traditional civil marriage.
So, neither yes nor no.

Since when did gay marriage exist?

We are used to thinking that the moment in which we live is the most developed and emancipated in human history, the best from every point of view, when it comes to the quality of life for everyone. But if we look back, we discover that in certain realities of the European and Asian world, the idea that people of the same sex could live unite in a pact, especially for the purposes of legal regulation, was already tolerated since the time of ancient Greece - obviously in very different forms from those we know today, also because it was above all the concept of the family that was substantially very different - and only when the Christian religion became the official religion of the Roman Empire, samesex unions were annulled and made illegal.
For things to change we will have to wait a few centuries (16 to be precise), when gay civil unions will be legalized in Denmark in 1989. But the turning point was in 2001, when Holland - the first country in the world - legalized samesex wedding, also making it equal from a legislative point of view to that celebrated between people of different sexes. Adoptions included.

Samesex wedding around the world

Currently only in 34 countries in the world, samesex marriages are equal to heterosexual ones. In other countries – Italy is on this list - there are forms that protect gay unions, but do not fully equate them to traditional marriages.

Difference between gay civil unions and civil weddings

Certainly the Cirinnà law fills an immense legislative vacuum, but for a country like Italy the road towards the expansion of civil rights is still quite long.
This is demonstrated by the differences that define gay civil unions from civil marriages, starting from the ritual.

Regarding the gay civil union:

  • since publications are not contemplated, various formulas recited during a common civil wedding are excluded during the ceremony;
  • there is no obligation of fidelity and no period of separation must be respected in the event of divorce;
  • underage citizens are not allowed to marry and the two cohabitants do not share the same surname (however, by presenting a declaration, it is possible to obtain a common surname).

The most discussed aspect, however, is this: the impossibility of adopting the partner's child by the non-biological parent (stepchild adoption). It is a right that the LGBTQ+ community has been fighting for for some time, despite the situation still remaining unchanged today.

Apart from these differences, the rights and duties of the couple remain the same: in both cases, in fact, the obligation of communion and separation of property, cohabitation, moral and material assistance and pension allowance are foreseen in case of partner's death. Furthermore, both in marriage and in civil union the number of witnesses does not change (they can be at most 1 per person) while for the rite in church each spouse can have up to 2 witnesses. Obviously these numbers do not apply to more "practical" roles such as maid of honor or best man (they can be a maximum of 8, 4 per spouse), which may not be included among the witnesses, and which deal in various capacities with the organization of the ceremony and the day.

What does the catholic church say?

From the point of view of the Catholic Church, unions between homosexual people are not comparable to marriage between a man and a woman, because only two individuals of different sexes can generate a new life and therefore create the brick on which the Catholic universe is built: the family willed by god.
Indeed, from an ecclesiastical point of view, marriage is not a simple "pact of coexistence", but a relationship with a unique social dimension. For the church, it is the fear that this social dimension will be undermined and consequently that society will lose its generative and founding brick, which defines the impossibility of gay marriage.
Love is not all the same, true (and necessary) love exists only between man and woman because it allows the species to progress numerically; it is therefore deduced that implicitly, according to the church, a homosexual union is only a pact of coexistence, useful for the single individuals involved, but useless for the purpose of maintaining society, as god would have thought it. Equally implicitly, it can be deduced that since adoption is prohibited for same-sex couples, with the same incapacity for procreation, a heterosexual family is not comparable to a homosexual family.
Sterility is interpreted as a fault, a stigma from which only the normal family - that is, theoretically the one wanted by God - can redeem itself through adoption, recovering its officially recognized role.

As an atheist I think that when a god (who I prefer to call nature) creates something, he always does it with a precise function, with a purpose, and perhaps he would not have created the "love that moves the sun and the other stars" (cit.), if it didn't want us to use it to guide our actions.

My experience as a samesex wedding photographer

Unlike the Catholic Church, I believe that love is that feeling from which a unique social dimension is generated, and that this is the building block on which society as a whole rests: the family yes, but the family 2.0.
Large extended families, homosexuals or single parents, adoptive and inclusive families, all united and guided by the same sentiment.

Gay marriage photography

The wedding photography service that I offer to my samesex couples is exactly the same that I offer to heterosexual couples, but I have to admit that photographing a gay union has not only a professional meaning for me, but also a political one.
For me it's like making a small microscopic contribution to the creation of a more inclusive world, a place where all can feel protected in their way of loving and free to express their feelings in mutual respect.

Contact me to tell the story of your wedding through candid and non-posed photos.

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