By Thom Senzee
Originally published on Advocate.com June 12 2014 4:43 PM ET
With an important victory behind her, a transgender Italian woman's fight to stay married to her wife of more than nine years is making its way to Italy's top court, according to PinkNews.
Alessandra Bernaroli, who lives in the northern Italian city of Bologna, lost her first case in a lower court seeking to have her marriage reinstated after the local marriage registry office dissolved it following Bernaroli's transition to female, reports Pink News.
But Bernaroli won reinstatement of her legally recognized union on appeal to a higher court. Now, La Consulta — Italy's supreme constitutional court — must decide whether or not to let that ruling stand.
The high court's ruling could have widespread implications, possibly setting a precedent that same-sex marriages are legally binding throughout Italy if they were legal at the time and place they were performed. Time magazine recently said Italy has a "homophobic" reputation among European Union nations, and with the Vatican located in Rome, conservative ideology has a powerful stronghold in public opinion.
Bernaroli, who works at a bank in northern Italy, claims that although her wife was initially "shocked" by news that her then-husband is transgender, they remain happily married today, after various gender-affirming surgeries.
"My body may have changed, but the love between us remains the same," Bernaroli told PinkNews. "I’m acting to defend our marriage. ... I fell in love with her nearly 20 years ago when I was a man, and we love each other as much as the first day we met, despite the fact that after a long journey and many operations I became a woman. Why should the state now try to separate us?”
PinkNews reports a final decision in the case is imminent.