In many countries same-sex marriage is now a consolidated reality. In Italy it is not still permitted, instead there is another form of legal union for both same-sex and straight couples, called civil union. But, beyond the formal aspects of a gay or lesbian ceremony, let’s see what’s the real difference between marriage and civil union.
Difference between marriage and civil union
Let’s try to understand what separates civil union from marriage.
For marriage we mean the civil celebration, not the religious one. Both civil union and marriage are legal acts protected by the Italian constitution. But, while the civil union is permitted for same sex couples, marriage unfortunately, is not. There is not yet a real equality between same-sex couples and straight coupes.
This celebration does not necessarily imply a ceremony and there are not preliminary obligations, but both acts implicate duties and rights to respects during life as a couple.
The civil union newborn law does not include a legal recognition for stepchild adoption. Moreover it does not require fidelity as the marriage does.
For what concerns all other aspects, the celebrations are almost identical. The civil union do not implies necessarily a ceremony, but only a declaration in front of a public officer (a mayor, an alderman, a councilman or a civilian with delegation) made by the couple at the presence of the two witnesses. The act will be after transcribed on a registry.
Civil union vs marriage: rights and duties
As for marriage, the civil union implies the mutual obligation of cohabitation, of community property state (or separation of property according to what the couple has decided), obligation of moral and material assistance, obligation to contribute to common needs, and, in case of death of the partner, it includes the acquisition of the pension rights. Lastly, in the event of serious illness of one of the partners, the other partner has the right to decide to accept or not the eventual care policy.
Italian common law already included also the legal procedure for the recognization of de-facto relationship. In this case, the partners have to formalize the relationship with corresponding duties and rights, with no necessity of getting married. The de-facto relationship can be seen as a lighter alternative to the legal marriage, open to every kid of couple, aiming to the recognization of duties and rights, solution that has to be formalized by a notary.