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Letter from Athens: The Vow Not Taken: Where’s Same-Sex Marriage in Greece?

In July, a month after pulverizing the now-major-minor opposition SYRIZA for a second time to take complete control in Greece with a parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – upstaging the Leftists – told the Bloomberg news agency that “Same-sex marriage will happen at some point, and it’s part of our strategy.”

What strategy? You have 158 seats in the 300-member Parliament, can pass a bill overnight if you want and ignore the media and critics and anyone else who stands in your way, so what’s the holdup?

At some point? How about tomorrow, because that’s about how long it would take to make good on your vow to let same sex people take their vows so they don’t have to leave the country to get married.

Like one of his top advisors, Alex Patoulis, who revealed he had to get married to his partner abroad because it’s not legal in Greece, and Mitsotakis didn’t have time in his first four years in office to do it.

But politics overrules everything, even marriage vows or devotion and dedication to your partner, and speaking up for the rights of humans to marry who they want, so Patoulis chickened out when asked about it.

“The Prime Minister said he believes in marriage equality and will bring this to the Parliament. Obviously, the timing is his decision, but I think society has shown us that it’s not their number one concern,” Patoulis said.

You could almost hear the sweat and fear in that response, but since he has the Prime Minister’s ear, maybe he could whisper into it to make good on a promise since he has the votes to get it done in a day.

Mitsotakis was backed into this corner by the new leader of SYRIZA, openly gay Greek-American businessman Stefanos Kasselakis, the first center-right leader of the Leftists.

Before he came out of nowhere, on the back of a social media campaign that was so slick it would slide off sandpaper, to win the helm of the wobbling SYRIZA, Kasselakis said he wants to legalize same-sex marriage.

That was when he was parading around with his partner, American Tyler McBeth, the two inseparable, and put the squeeze on Mitsotakis, who wants gay marriage about as much as taxing a shipping oligarch.

Kasselakis had to go back to the United States to marry his partner and is running SYRIZA from abroad, but if he spends any more time there someone’s going to call him Skypelakis.

Regarding same-sex marriage, Kasselakis properly wonders: what’s the holdup? “When it comes to human rights … the argument everything comes in its time does not exist,” he said, reported EURACTIV, slamming Mitsotakis for sitting on his hands.

The news site said that it “understands the Greek Prime Minister has delayed taking a step on the topic, fearing a fierce reaction from the party’s far-right faction,” and he got it both barrels.

That was from State Minister Makis Voridis who said he would vote against a same-sex marriage bill if Mitsotakis brings it, challenging his leader openly and essentially daring him to do something about it.

“I stand in opposition to it, and I have clearly stated that I will not support it. Beyond that, it falls within the realm of the Prime Minister,” Voridis told Action 24 TV during an interview.

He said despite Mitsotakis indicating he would move to legalize same-sex marriage, opposed by all but four New Democracy lawmakers previously, “the current discussion remains primarily academic and theoretical.”

Voridis is tailor-made to play Dr. Strangelove if there’s ever a remake, as he jumped to New Democracy from the far-right LAOS party after a youthful association with Georgios Papadopoulos, Greece’s dictator during the junta years, so you know what his stripes are.

He founded the far-right Hellenic Front party and ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Athens on the motto Red Card to the Illegal Immigrants – the type the government is being accused of pushing back now, denying it.

He must have secret tapes of Mitsotakis smoking Maui Wowee weed and watching ‘Up in Smoke with Cheech and Chong’, because the Prime Minister stays further away from him than a Cobra.

If 154 of 158 New Democracy lawmakers don’t want same sex marriage he can order them to vote for it or be booted from the party – but he’d get the Capt. Queeg treatment and face a mutiny, so he’s not going to do it even though he has the power.

He made all the right steps about gay rights before stopping short of the altar and leaving them there. His government in 2021 created a committee to draft a national LGBTQI+ strategy. We’re still waiting for it.

The Greek Orthodox Church doesn’t want same-sex marriage either and besides the hard-right elements in New Democracy he’d have to take on the powerful clerics, so don’t count on that.

When same-sex marriage becomes legal in Estonia in 2024 that will make 20 European countries that allow it, while 12 – including Greece – have approved civil unions but not marriage.

I don’t care if a person wants to sleep with sheep – although it would cut down on the amount of virgin wool – but if Mitsotakis doesn’t make good on this vow this time it will be left to Kasselakis to do it if he ever becomes Premier. Pass the Vowie Wowie.

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