How Do You Define a Family?

Even though I'm both Irish and Italian by nationality, I've always thought of my identity as firmly rooted in Italian culture. My mother and mother's family are 100% Italian, and I grew up with the sauce and the bread, the cookies and the cold cuts, the Catholic guilt, and the close (and sometimes privacy-busting) family love. So before I go any further here, let it be known that I love my Italian heritage.

That said, my amici in the mother country have clearly lost their ever-loving minds. Last Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Italians amassed in Rome for a Family Day rally.

My people were out in the ancient squares of Rome rallying to protest proposed legislation that would grant new rights to unmarried and same-sex couples. What are these rights that have so many Italians up-in-arms? Inheritance and hospital visits, among others.

The legislation wouldn't legazlize gay marriage or civil unions. It's merely the extension of the basic rights of all human beings: to visit your loved one who is sick in the hospital. To inherit from your partner of 30 years his or her life's savings, the savings you contributed to, upon that person's death.

And the reason for the criticism of this legislation? Apparently, my friends in Italy believe that to extend these rights to unmarried and same sex couples would serve to "dismantle the traditional family."

I have never understood how critics of gay marriage, civil unions, or the mere extension of rights to unmarried couples can say that their own marriages, and their own families, are threatened by giving the rights they enjoy to others.

If my neighbors Ron and Alex get married and can now enjoy the 1,400 some-odd rights given to heterosexual couples upon marriage, how exactly does this affect my life with Isabella and Rich? Oh right. It doesn't.

And as I've said before, two people, regardless of gender, commiting themselves to each other for life is not eroding the moral fabric of this country or any other. Look no further than the war-mongering president of our fine country for that one. Drunk heterosexual celebrities marrying eachother after a night of partying in Vegas (a la Brit-Brit) is fine, but a gay couple in a ten-year relationship cannot make their bond legal? When will the ignorant leaders of the world realize that there are more important issues facing us daily than boys (or girls) kissing?

Somewhere between 250,000 and 1.5 million people (actual counts vary) attended this rally, organized by lay Catholic groups and "family associations." Right. Because clearly, if you and your boyfriend have three kids, you're not a family because you're not married. And you? You over there with your same-sex parter of 12 years and your three cats? You're not a family either.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. And just because your family doesn't look like mine, just because your family has cats not kids, or is composed of two men, or is made up of two women with their children from previous relationships, or a man and a woman in a multiple-decade common-law marriage doesn't mean that each of these families doesn't deserve the same rights that Rich and I were given when we got married.

Clearly all that gelato has frozen some brains in the motherland.

4 Responses to “How Do You Define a Family?”

  1. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Amen sister. This is one issue that gets my blood boiling.  

  2. # Blogger Kris

    I'll second that amen! My MIL once told me that (yes, it's a direct quote) "gays only want the right to get married for the tax cut." Ummm... we pay MORE in taxes by being married, and the last time I checked she hadn't ever spoken to a same sex couple and asked them.... grrrr... yeah... it makes me grumpy too if you couldn't tell! =)  

  3. # Blogger Ramona

    Very well said, Kristi!
    It pisses me off even more when parents bring their little kids to these rallies and teach them hatred at such a young age.  

  4. # Blogger sher

    I totally agree with you!  

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