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Gay couple live streams hunger strike

Francesco Zanardi and Manuel Incorvaia are starving themselves in a demand for gay marriage.

Zanardi himself wrote letters to all the 630 parliament deputies demanding a new civil rights law. Only two replied.

“I think their initiative is courageous, very important and I admire them so much for what they are doing,” said Francesco Bilotta, an attorney at Rete Lenford, a national agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Italy.

Last November, Zanardi and Incorvaia and 23 other same-sex couples walked into their local city halls and requested that they be married. Once mayors denied their request, the couples took their cases to court, claiming that the Italian constitution doesn’t forbid gay couples from marrying.

“Because the constitution is so broadly written one could interpret it in light of social change,” said Bilotta who is the attorney for all 24 couples. “So extensively, to include same-sex couples,” he said.

By demanding gay marriage, same-sex couples organized under the so-called “Civil Affirmation” campaign are asking courts to re-examine current interpretation of Italian law.

Four tribunal courts in Florence, Venice, Ferrara and Trento — where the couples first made their claims — now must reject the cases or send them to a higher constitutional court.

“The outcome is a given,” said Claudio Mori, an upbeat gay rights activist in Rome. The 68-year-old veteran, who has pushed for LGBT rights since the 1970s, said it’s time for a progressive turn. Like many others, Mori is betting on Zanardi’s and Incorvaia’s case reaching constitutional courts.

“If they don’t respond to the call, they will be remembered as those constitutional judges who didn’t love the people,” said Mori, “who discriminated against people based on their sexual orientation.”

On Wednesday, Zanardi and Incorvaia will appear in court for their first hearing — that is, if they still have enough energy to leave their house. The tall and slender Zanardi has already lost 18 pounds. He has collapsed several times and is now unable to retain any liquids. “My body is giving up,” he said.

But that doesn’t deter him.

“I am not going to stop striking,” said Zanardi. “If necessary, I’ll die at home.”