LGBT advocates take to the streets as Italian Senate prepares to debate civil union-type bill

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Photo of protest in Rome from The Daily Beast

Just days before the Italian Senate is set to begin debate over legislation that would grant legal recognition to same-sex couples, LGBT advocates took to the streets across the country to call on lawmakers to approve the bill.

Italy is the only major Western European country that doesn’t already have some sort of legal protections in place for same-sex couples, and last June, the European Court of Human Rights determined Italy to be in “breach of human rights” because of that. The court specifically cited adoption, shared pension benefits, and tax breaks as key rights that are missing, as The Daily Beast notes.

Thursday, Jan. 28, the Senate will begin examining The Cirinna Law — called that because it was introduced by Sen. Monica Cirinna — which is the first bill offering protections for same-sex couples.

The bill would give same-sex couples to option commit themselves to one another before a state official, to take each other’s names and, in certain circumstances, adopt each other’s children and inherit each other’s residual pension rights.

The Cirinna bill carefully avoids talk of “marriage,” which the Italian constitutional court has ruled may exist only between “natural” heterosexual couples. Instead it allows same-sex couples the right to be recognized the same way non-married straight couples are, as a “social formation” or life-long partnership that isn’t bound by a marriage certificate, the way France has done with its civil solidarity pacts for more than 15 years

On Saturday, Jan. 23, advocates marched in support of the legislation. Protests were planned for 90 towns and cities across the country under the slogan, “Wake up Italy! It’s time to be civil,” according to The

According to Italian media, there were at least 7,000 demonstrators in Turin, 5,000 in Milan, thousands in Rome and Bologna, a thousand in Bari in the south, and hundreds in Naples and Venice among others.

Considering that Italy — and Rome, especially — is the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, opposition is, of course, strong. Opponents of the Cirinna bill are planning a demonstration on Jan. 30 at the Circus Maximus. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the “Family Day” gathering under the rallying cry of “Defend of children.”

Angelo Bagnasco, the chair of the Italian conference of bishops, has denounced the whole debate as a “grave and irresponsible distraction from the real problems of the country.” And in what many saw as papal intervention in the debate, Pope Francis on Friday, Jan. 22, ruled out any form of union except Catholic marriage.

—  Tammye Nash

Congrats to Martina and Julia, to Neil Patrick and David — but especially to Vivian and Nonie

Martina proposes

Martina Navratilova, left, proposes to Julia Lemigova.

Twenty-five years after she won her fourth and final singles championship at the U.S. Open, tennis great Martina Navratilova dropped to one knee on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Arthur Ashe Stadium to propose to her girlfriend, Julia Lemigivo.

The proposal, which came during a break in play while Navratilova was providing color commentary on the U.S. Open men’s competition, was shown on the stadium’s Jumbotron, and fortunately for Navratilova, Lemigova said yes.

Navratilova, 57, and the 42-year-old Miss USSR have been a couple since 2006. Read more here.

In other celebrity wedding news, Neil Patrick Harris married his longtime partner, David Burtka. The couple married in Italy, with a featured performance from Elton John. Harris and Burtka have been engaged since 2011, and are fathers to twins.

For more info (like how Elton John played at the reception) and to see a gorgeous photo, go here.

But here is the REALLY big wedding news of the past few days: Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, 90, both of Iowa, also got married over the weekend after 72 years together. They exchanged vows on Saturday in a small ceremony in Davenport, Iowa, surrounded by family and friends.

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—  Tammye Nash

Car Ad Too Risqué in Italy

RENAULT CAR AD X390 (GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COMAn Italian car ad has been barred from airing on at least one network because it was deemed too offensive to lesbians. Daily News

—  admin

‘Real Students With Real Stats’

The Bully Suicide Project, a nonprofit organization launched in 2009, has launched its Fall Campaign with nationally recognized local photographer Tracy Nanthavongsa and make-up by Melissa Whitaker.

The theme of the Fall Campaign is “Real Students With Real Stats.” Each model in the campaign is a high school or middle school student in North Texas that has survived bullying. Photos are graphic and drive home the real life effects of bullying by portraying the physical signs. The Bully Suicide Project (BSP), based in Dallas, is fast becoming one of the top resources for schools and parents for bullying prevention and education.

The BSP has been featured on CNN, Fox and CBS. The Fall Campaign is set to reach new goals by being introduced internationally with organizations in Australia, China, England and Italy.

To view the Fall Campaign, please visit or Facebook at “The Bully Suicide Project.”

The Bully Suicide Project seeks funding from outside sources so that each school can receive this vital training for free. For more information, please contact Beaux Wellborn, assistant director of the Bully Suicide Project at 214-635-1985 or

—  admin