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France continues push towards marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Amidst the hubbub of the election last week, we didn’t have an opportunity to cover another important marriage equality update taking place in France, where Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government is making good on a campaign promise to allow same-sex couples to marry.  Last Wednesday, the New York Times reports, Hollande’s cabinet approved a first draft bill that would legalize marriage equality in the country, even as opposition from French conservatives has grown more pointed in the last month.  From the Times:

The draft law redefines marriage to stipulate that it is “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex,” and the words “father” and “mother” in existing legislation are replaced by “parents.” The bill would also allow married gay couples to adopt children.

Christiane Taubira, the justice minister, told the conservative newspaper La Croix that “marriage for all,” as the government calls it, was a response to “a demand for equality.”

But the move to legalize same-sex marriage has been controversial, and the bill was subject to delays in a country where only married couples can adopt. Opinion polls indicate that a majority of the French support gay marriage, but only half approve of allowing gays to adopt.

On Wednesday, Serge Dassault, an influential senator from the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said the bill represented “the end of the family, the end of children’s development, the end of education.” He called it “an enormous danger to the nation.”

Not surprisingly, much of the opposition to the French bill has come from religious officials in the country.  Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Paris’s archbishop, called the bill a “deception,” according to the Times, telling an assembly of 120 bishops in Lourdes over the weekend, “When we defend the right of children to build their personality with reference to the man and the woman who gave them life, we are not defending a particular position.”

The bill does not include provisions that would allow same-sex couples the same access to state aid for artificial insemination that heterosexual couples currently enjoy.  LGBT activists have said they will push to include such rights in the future, even if it requires additional legislation, and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that an amendment could be added to the law in the future.

The draft bill will go before parliament in January, where Hollande’s party has a comfortable majority.  Still, the campaign for marriage equality in France looks like it’s just starting to heat up, and success there is far from guaranteed.

2 Comments

  • 1. Reformed  |  November 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

    True equality will be here when "between two persons" no longer needs to be further qualified by "of different sex or of the same sex". It is necessary because of discrimination and may always be necessary as we can see from the contemporary movement to revise the history of marriage to fit someone's idea of traditional.

  • 2. Pat  |  November 14, 2012 at 3:18 am

    As a European and keen observer of French politics, there is really little danger for the law: it will likely be adopter by the parliament next Spring. The national assembly has a socialist majority, and together with the green party and other left-wing representatives, there is very comfortable margin for the law to pass.
    Sure, the religious right will bitch and make a lot of noise, but ultimately, public opinion is over 60% favorable to same-sex marriage. In fact, the most troubling difference with the US is (I think) that adoption is a tougher nut to crack for public opinion in France than marriage. (as the article says, opinion is pretty split 50-50 on adoption even though it is very favorable to marriage itself). It seems to me that it's the opposite in the US, am I right? Marriage itself is a much bigger deal and enjoys less support than adoption, correct? Any idea why it is so?

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