We have been making the case that the moves Pope Francis has been making have, within the context of the Catholic Church and its influence on the world, been a big deal. The fact that he’s shifted focus from demonizing LGBT people, in and of itself, has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world. And now, in an interview with an Italian newspaper, the Pope has suggested that he could support civil unions. No, it’s not full equality, but let us not forget that this was the position of mainstream Democrats as recently as 2008. Catholic organizations like NOM and the Catholic League can’t be happy to hear this news:

Pope Francis signaled that the Catholic Church could support some civil unions, particularly in order to guarantee property rights or medical care for nonmarried couples.

The pontiff made the comment in a wide-ranging interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published Wednesday.

Francis reiterated the church’s stance that marriage is between a man and a woman before adding that moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care,” according to the Catholic News Service.

While the pope’s remark opens the door to support for same-sex civil unions, he did not endorse them outright. The Catholic News Service noted “until now, no pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions.”

The huge difference I see in this Pope is that he is changing the conversation to one where anti-gay bigots like Brian Brown and Bill Donohue are on the defensive, constantly explaining to us that the current Pope hates LGBT people as much as they do. That simply doesn’t seem to be the case.