On the same day bishops in the Roman Catholic Church voted (118 to 62) to remove language that was earlier hailed as a historic warming of attitudes towards gay people, the mayor of Rome transcribed 16 same-sex couples’ marriages onto the city’s registers on Saturday although the predominantly Catholic country does not allow for the recognition of such unions.
The 11 male and six female couples were legally married abroad.
Mayor Ignazio Marino, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, reportedly received loud applause upon arrival at the city hall reception room where the couples, and their family and friends were gathered to make the marriages official in Rome’s city ledger.
He said on Twitter it was ‘a special day that I hope will soon become a normal day,’ adding that his administration ‘wants to write the future’ by recognizing relationships ‘based on love.’
His move was swiftly condemned by interior minister Angelino Alfano who says the registrations are ‘not possible’ under Italian law and thus have ‘no legal value.’
The Italian bishops’ conference also issued a statement saying it was ‘unacceptable’ that Marino registered the weddings the same day Catholic bishops were wrapping up a two-week summit aiming to reinforce traditional Catholic family values.
The bishops reiterated their position that marriage is only between a man and woman.
The mayors of Milan and Bologna had earlier had done the same for other same-sex couples in their respective cities. Heterosexual couples, who marry outside Italy, similarly register their unions in Italy when they return.
Earlier this month, Alfano, who is the leader of the small New Centre-Right party, called for all same-sex marriages to be annulled and removed from municipal registries, and threatened action from the federal government.