The government is still arguing about exactly what to do with all these people who just don't want to get married and breed. And not only the government. The Italian president, ex-communist Giorgio Napolitano, threw in his tuppenny-hapenny worth a couple of days ago, announcing that the Vatican's views on PACS, or civil unions, should be taken into account. If this was a conciliatory gesture, it backfired. The episcopal council yesterday said that no compromise was possible, the traditional role of the family was sacred, marriage was an absolute value, etc. The usual position, in other words, and why not? Isn't grunting what pigs do best, even exclusively?
With 56% of Italians now in favour of civil unions, the opinion of God's ferret and his merry gang of sex-obsessed septuagenarians is daily less significant. The problem's within the government itself. Mastella, Minister of Justice, refuses to endorse the bill as a matter, apparently, of conscience after a career based on the most shameless political expediency. An anti-abortionist called Paola Binetti whines on about family, family, family, as though marriages will crumble at the merest whiff of visiting rights in hospital. (Hey! Why go to all the fuss of getting married? I can watch you die without it!)
Meanwhile, the two women responsible for drawing up the bill, because of course it's women's work, are arguing about how long a civil union should last before one can inherit the pension of the other. They're doing a Sugar and Spice routine, like police interrogators. Sugar says five years is long enough. Spice says fifteen, but may come down to ten. Will this be applied retroactively? I don't think so. Great news to couples in their fifties or sixties, who may have been together for decades, like my friend Dan and his partner.
And how long do widows/widowers (I'm talking the real thing here, obviously, the genuinely ex-married) have to be together to qualify? Not one fucking day.