The mayor of Rome defied a directive from Italy’s interior minister on Oct. 31 by refusing to remove from the city’s marriage registry the names of same-sex couples he entered into the document who were legally married in other countries in Europe and the United States.
The Italian news agency ANSA reports that Mayor Ignazio Marino announced he would not obey an order on Friday by a representative of the national government to “annul” at least 16 entries of married gay couples he has placed in the city’s official marriage registry since September.
The government representative, known in Italy as a Prefect, was acting at the direction of Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, a member of Italy’s center-right party, who has said the registration of marriages of same-sex couples cannot take place because such marriages are not legal in Italy.
But according to an Oct. 31 ANSA story, Marino and mayors of several other cities, including Milan, Bologna, and Udine, created an “administrative no-man’s land” for the national government in September when they began registering the marriages of gay couples.
Among other things, the mayors argued that Italy may be bound by treaties to recognize legal marriages performed in European Union countries that recognize them, such as France, Belgium and Spain, as well as in Canada and the United States.
Following a registration ceremony in September at Rome’s city hall, Marino told the New York Times that he and his fellow mayors entering the names of married same-sex couples in their respective city’s registry book view their action as a symbolic gesture to prod the national government into passing legislation to legalize such marriages in Italy.
The Times reported the mayors acknowledged that the couples being entered into the registry could not obtain any of the rights and benefits of marriage under Italian law.
“Today is a special day, but we still have a long way to go so that this may become a normal day,” the Times quoted Marino as saying last month as several same-sex couples who married in other countries watched him enter their names in the registry.
“Because of the unfortunate lack of a national law, I can only register it,” the Times quoted him as saying
In its story on Friday, ANSA reported that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called Marino to praise his “strong and courageous stance” and told him to “keep going, my friend, keep fighting the good fight.”
ANSA said de Blasio met and became friends with Marino in July when the New York mayor and his family visited Italy.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi recently proposed a law to recognize civil “partnerships” for same-sex couples in Italy but stopped short of supporting recognition of same-sex marriage.