The family, we shall make no confusion

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We are on the eve of an important parliamentary debate that – on this occasion more than ever – takes place also and especially in the country, in the streets, in the media and inside the families themselves.

It is a careful and participatory debate, aware of the fact that there is a crucial, epochal change going on. There is also concern, because we face the topic of life partnerships – not families – late and in the wrong way. Late because we are encouraged by our common membership in a European legal culture in which we recognize ourselves and to which we want to proudly belong. In the wrong way because there is an attempt to burden a process that might have been fast with improper, socially inappropriate, legally unconstitutional, and politically divisive loads.

As in the worst financial laws, in the bill on civil unions there are provisions which should not be there and which should be discussed elsewhere and otherwise. The feeling on gets is that it is something that needs to be approved at all costs: an awful way to legislate. What emerges from the debate – today in the media, tomorrow in the Parliament – is the intention of applying unacceptable forcing to make the family become a kind of model which  can be adapted to different situations.

There is only one kind of family; it is not an extensible model. Rights are for everyone, but there is only one kind of family. This is not to deny the importance and the merits of social solidarity, nor the value of partnership and shared life purposes, as in the case of same-sex unions. The State is right to support, help, and promote these realities that are worthy of recognition. Currently, society lives in a world of articulated facets, small communities in the general society. This is an accepted fact of legal culture, and an inescapable precept of the Constitution. But it becomes unacceptable when someone wants to force this – dutiful – fulfillment to overturn the values expressed by the society.

The part of the bill known as the Stepchild Adoption should not find a place in our legal system. We cannot demean and contradict the clear precept of the Article 29 of the Charter: “The Republic recognizes the rights of the family as a natural society founded on marriage.” It cannot pretend that the word “natural” is not written there. The sacrosanct protection of the family finds in the term “natural” a fundamental reason that cannot be extended. With the sentence nr. 138 of 2010, the Constitutional Court stated that the question of constitutionality – raised by the Court of Venice – with regard to the articles of the Civil Code that impose a model of heterosexual marriage. The Quirinale showed this sentence to the Government as a guiding star.

We must recognize the legislator’s discretion on the question of civil unions. But discretion does not mean liberty. Well, in Italy, the Constitution recognizes the rights of one sole kind of family, that is, “a natural society founded on marriage.” Contradicting this principle – paraphrasing Talleyrand’s famous words – “is worse than unconstitutionality: it is a mistake.” Incongruous and rash equalizing is not possible.

The State cannot let a child be raised by a homosexual couple, as if it were a family founded on marriage, simply because both are couples. It is not a matter of being worse or better. It is a matter of undeniable diversity. Diversity has to be protected, but it cannot become identicalness. We shall make no “confusion”. This is the word the Holy Father used to point out the evident difference “between the family desired by God and any other kind of union.”

Confusion means mixing things up. Thus, both of them lose their identity of different models of affective partnership – both valid and legitimate – in mutual respect and in the freedom of choice each one of them has.

Taking adventurous paths without the necessary caution, paths that are contrary to our founding principles and even to common sense, would be a dangerous instance of civil and social short-sightedness. We need foresight. The family must stay at the heart of society, if we want society to keep its balance.

Maria Elisabetta Casellati, member of the High Council for the Judiciary

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