Italy's highest court has ruled against
two gay couples' bid to marry, the AP reported.
The country's Constitutional Court
heard an appeal on March 23 from two couples who were denied the
right to marry in the northern cities of Venice and Trento.
The plaintiffs had asked the court to
have their city governments recognize gay unions.
The AP is reporting that the court
rebuffed the challenge, saying that it is up to lawmakers, not judges,
to decide the issue.
Italian lawmakers have debated civil
unions and marriage for gay and lesbian couples since 1986, but no
proposal has ever reached the floor of Parliament for a vote.
The Vatican, which holds powerful
influence in Italian politics, opposes recognition of gay unions.
Pope Benedict called for the ouster of Socialists in Spain after they
legalized gay marriage in 2005.
Last week, the Roman Catholic
stronghold of Portugal
inched closer to legalizing gay marriage after the nation's
Constitutional Court gave its OK to a gay marriage bill approved by
lawmakers. Pope Benedict is widely expected to criticize the
bill next month as he tours the country.