(ANSA) - Milan, September 18 - Milan's civil union registry debuted Tuesday, permitting homosexual couples a measure of formal recognition in the eyes of local law. At 8:45am, the designated hall in the city's central registry office was packed with well-wishers for the first couple - a politically symbolic one - to sign their names in the registry. Gay activist and politician Paolo Hutter and his companion Paolo Oddi, clad in blue jackets, signed their civil union certificate to a blaze of camera flashes. To perfect the photo-op, Hutter and Oddi deployed an outsized pen. "We would have liked orange, but we couldn't find one," the couple said, referring to the symbolic color of leftist Mayor Giuliano Pisapia during his election campaign. "In the end, I am excited. I didn't expect it," confessed Oddi at the end of the process. Hutter commented on how the civil union still falls far short of marriage. "It is a minimal act in itself. It's not the emotion we would have liked to experience. Today is still a symbolic gesture," said Hutter. Hutter is a journalist, ex-city council member and ex-alderman in Turin. He also officiated at symbolic gay marriages 20 years ago in front of the Milan mayor's offices in the Piazza della Scala. Milan's alderman for civil services, Daniela Benelli, gave a bouquet of flowers to the couple. The renowned journalist and television host Gad Lerner was in attendance as were a number of city council members belonging to the centre-left majority.
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