Next week, Italy's Parliament is scheduled to take up a law that would allow same-sex couples to enter civil unions.
Italy is the only country in Western Europe that grants no legal status to same-sex couples; nearly all others have full marriage equality.
Italy's judiciary and the European Court of Human Rights have both ruled that the country is required to recognize same-sex couples, but there's no mechanism to change the law without action from Parliament.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been trying to get legislation through parliament for almost two years, but it has been blocked in part by partners in his ruling coalition and members of his Democratic Party close to the Catholic hierarchy.
The battle has been framed as a referendum on the Catholic Church under Pope Francis and its role in Italian politics — lawmakers credit his conciliatory tone towards LGBT people with creating the space to finally legislate on the issue.
But earlier this month, Pope Francis appeared to signal opposition to the bill, saying, "there can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union.”
A BuzzFeed/IPSOS poll conducted last spring found 75 percent of Italians support legal rights for same-sex couples, with 51 percent supporting full marriage equality.
Earlier this month, hundreds of thousands reportedly held demonstrations in around 90 spots throughout Italy in support of the law.
This weekend, opponents of the bill are organizing a "family day" in Rome, which is expected to have crowds so large that the Italian train company is offering discounted fares of the kind routinely offered for major events.
Around 1,000 amendments to the bill are pending in the Senate, so it could take a while before the bill comes to a final vote.
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211