Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's political gamble paid off Thursday, with his nation's Senate voting overwhelmingly to approve a bill to legalize nonreligious civil unions for same-sex couples, reports the BBC.
In an attempt to force the bill's passage after weeks of delay, Renzi called a confidence vote in his leadership and his legislative agenda Thursday. Had the motion failed, he would have been forced to resign. The vote was successful, passing by a margin of 173-71, an outcome that Renzi has hailed as "historic."
Renzi has made it a personal mission to bring his country into alignment with the rest of Western Europe when it comes to legally recognizing same-sex partnerships. Italy is the only country in the region without any legal recognition or protections for same-sex couples, let alone marriage equality.
The legislation had languished in the country's upper house of Parliament due to heated controversy over a provision that would allow for one partner to adopt the biological child of the other. That adoption clause was stripped from the language voted on Thursday. The bill now goes to Parliament's lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, where its passage is expected to be easy.
The removal of the bill's adoption clause has prompted marriage equality advocates to denounce the bill as a "betrayal," reports the BBC. Renzi had long insisted that the provision for adoption would remain included in the final version, a key reason the bill stalled for so long in the Senate.
But Wednesday, Italy's highest court refused to consider a case filed by a pair of lesbian mothers from Portland, Ore., who were seeking Italian recognition their U.S.-based adoption of two children. Some observers suspect that the court's rejection of the highly publicized case prompted Renzi to move forward with the civil unions bill stripped of its adoption provision.
Flavio Romani, president of the LGBT rights group Arcigay, told Reuters:
"This text once again does not take into consideration children who need definite laws and protection. The law that has come out of all this is lacking its heart."