Newspaper accounts indicate that despite threatening clouds on a cold Roman day, anywhere from 700,000 (the left-wing press) to close to two million (the organizers) people gathered in Rome Jan. 30 to support the traditional family, currently under attack via a bill in the Italian Parliament to recognize same-sex civil unions—which would permit adoptions (“stepchild adoption”)—and surrogacy. One million people had been expected. Photos and livestreaming showed that the Circus Maximus, Rome’s largest piazza at 140,000 square meters, was entirely filled. More people probably lined the adjoining streets.
Italy is the only remaining country in the European Union not to have legally approved this sort of “arrangement.” The leftist prime Minister, Matteo Renzi (who claims to be Catholic), believes the Italian Parliament should approve the law—known as the Cirinnà Law—now being debated. In other words, Italy should “be a banana and join the bunch!”
This was not Italy’s first Family Day. That first took place in 2007, when similar legislation was first proposed—and subsequently defeated. Interestingly, Renzi was against civil-union legislation back then, and marched in that rally. In John Kerry-like fashion, he was against the idea of civil unions before he was for them! Working in favor of traditional family supporters is the Italian Constitution, which does recognize the traditional family in Article 29.
The leader of the Family Day effort is a layman, Dr. Massimo Gandolfini, a married neurosurgeon from Brescia (near Milan). He and his wife have adopted seven children. He has been widely interviewed with pointed questions from a sharp media and he has given some equally pointed answers.
At the rally Dr Gandolfini insisted that “the Cirinnà law must be completely defeated. There can be no compromises or touch-ups. The law is unacceptable from the first to the last word and deserves a radical solution. It is not a question of making a modification here or there or changing three or four words. It has to be totally defeated.”
A name probably familiar to readers is Jennifer Lahl, of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, who spoke out against surrogacy. “I bring you greetings from California,” she began her remarks, “the reproductive tourism capital of the world.” It is, she went on “where Elton John and his partner David Furnish came, not once, but twice to buy their children. They paid women and exploited them for their eggs. They paid women and exploited them for their uteruses. They literally bought their children who will never know their mothers or be loved by their mothers.”
Unlike last May’s Rome March for Life, in which I personally participated, I had to follow developments concerning the Family Day rally in press accounts. As in May’s march, what I found most interesting were the slogans on the banners that marchers carried. This time the most “comprehensive” was a series of words which captured the essence of Family Day. It read: “Mother, Father, Child, Family, People, Nation, Identity, Freedom.”
One slogan simply played on the name of the law’s sponsor (Cirinnà): The banner read “CirinNO!” Another sublimely alluded to divine origin: “Family: the dream of God.”
“Family wrecking prohibited” is the translation of “Vietato rottamare le famiglie.” This is a particularly pointed slogan given that the Italian noun “rottamatore” (meaning one who wrecks things or breaks things apart) is the nick-name bestowed on the young, brash Prime Minister Renzi when he crashed upon the Italian political scene without even being elected two years ago!
Can a million or so citizens be ignored? The day after the rally the Renzi government let it be known that deliberations on the Cirinnà law would commence February 2, with voting expected to be finalized by mid-month. As a famous baseball player once said: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
—Vincenzina Santoro is an international economist. She represents the American Family Association of New York at the United Nations.