On one side stand the elderly, those who suffered before any of us were even born. They stomached slaps and punches, got kicked out of their homes, swallowed insults from their mothers and fathers, and endured beatings and humiliation from the police...They endured a lot and dealt with a lot of fear, but they also had plenty of fun, I'm sure. These old men and women are the pioneers: they dared to take a chance, back when they were only 10 or 20 years-old.
Forty years of fighting. Forty years of patience, of hope, of jokes and slurs, of unkept promises, of insults and rumors. They took it all in. They lost lovers, friends and companions along the way. They took bitter drinks -- and not the kind you order at a bar -- as they fought for their rights and waved pieces of colored cloth and chanted colorful slogans. They were angry, and chased the traitors away with insults.
Many of them are no longer with us. Some of them committed suicide for the cause, or out of desperation. Some died of old age or illness before they had the chance to see any tangible results. I won't mention names because I would definitely leave someone out, and I wouldn't want to forget anyone, or any of the battles they have fought. They laughed, cried, and at times were punched and bruised -- but they never stopped singing and dancing.
I want to pay homage to all of you, and thank each and every one of you. Without you, I never would have married my wife, and we would have never had the children we have now. You have paved the road for me, and for everyone who came after you. We were all driven and inspired by the example you set. Without you, Italy's Parliament would have not approved the civil unions bill.
So I understand that you have something to celebrate today. Truly. This is your party, and that's the way things should be. And I want to thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.
But I have no desire to thank Italian politicians, parliament, the Democratic Party or Renzi. Because the law they're creating today -- a useful and important law, obviously -- remains an unjust law, at once discriminatory and offensive to all gay, lesbian and transgender people.
There is an inequality written into the law that threatens our existence, our families, and our choices.
This law has two key flaws: First, it once again perpetuates the idea that gays and lesbians like us do not deserve rights and protections equal to those given to heterosexuals. It says that the relationships we build are less valuable and have lower social standing. It is a law with homophobic undertones. It was born because they no longer had a choice; because Italy is still the ugly duckling of the Western world. It is a law that is limited in scope, and born out of a sad, shameful debate. A debate that has been indecent, with a few rare exceptions.
And then there are the children. Our children. Adoption rights have been written off. The Italian parliament and the Democratic Party have satisfied the homophobes who passionately ask: "How will we protect the children?" But which children are we talking about? The children of homophobes? Other peoples' children? Written off! Just as many other children are regularly written off: those who drown in the Mediterranean, those who disappear into thin air, and those who work without permits on Italian soil. The children of gay and lesbian couples, despite everything, remain the most fortunate among those who disappear from life, from dignity, and from the law.
The second defect of this law is that it denies us the dignity and value of being gay or lesbian parents. Adoption will be determined by the courts, on a case-by-case basis. Shame on you! This will force gay and lesbian parents to live in purgatory for years, bearing the burden of expenses, lawyers, judges, psychologists, social workers and home visits. Shame on you! There are parents who actually abuse and torture their children. Social workers and psychologists should have better things to do -- they should focus on protecting the children born to couples that are abusive, but automatically protected simply because they are heterosexual.
Right now, we have to deal with further anxiety and uncertainty. There is an inequality written into the law that threatens our existence, our families, and our choices. I understand that many older couples and younger couples want to celebrate, but please, try to understand why I'm in no mood to do so. I can only go back and thank and remember those who have hoped and prayed for this moment for the past 40 years.
Unfortunately, this law was born "old," ancient, as congresswoman Michela Marzano has already pointed out.
P.S. They passed the law! Hallelujah! I don't want to celebrate, but I'm deeply moved. I feel like crying for joy and sadness all at once -- like Rabelais's Gargantua, who didn't know whether to cry for the death of his wife or celebrate the birth of his child.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.