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Same-sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions In France

Part 5: 2013-JAN & FEB: Public demonstrations.
National Assembly passed part of the bill.

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This topic continues from the previous essay

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2013-JAN-13: A major public protest against "Marriage for All" SSM bill:

Police estimate that about 340,000 people joined a protest in central Paris against the SSM bill which would allow loving, committed couples to marry and to adopt. Their major spokesperson is a woman who goes by the pseudonym "Fridge Barjot." She describes herself as an "anarchist of love." She has said:

"If what was on offer were a law that further enshrined rights for gay couples, that enriched their unions, and got rid of the discriminations and injustices that undoubtedly still exist -- then I would support it."

However, she believes that the SSM bill -- as proposed -- would:

"... destructure [society by] destroying the concept in law of mother and father [and changing the time-honoured essence of the family]."

A study by the liberal group, the Thomas More Foundation, suggests that much of the vocal opposition against SSM in France can be traced to the marriage process in that country:

  • In most Catholic countries like Portugal and Spain, couples have the option of being married in church with the priest, rabbi, imam, minister or pastor acting as a civic official who record the details of each marriage on a government form. Because of the very dim view that most faith groups have towards lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGB), SSM in those countries in effect means that a civil marriage with no religious connection. Thus the religious and heterosexual population feels that LGB's form of civil marriage is very different from their own. It does not threaten them and does not threaten their own marriage.

  • In France, every couple seeking to be married goes through a civil marriage. Those to whom their faith is important generally go on to have a second marriage in their church, synagogue, cathedral or temple. Thus a change in the legislation concerning marriage effects opposite-sex and same-sex couples in the same way.

Perhaps because of the pressure from the public protests, a clause has been deleted from the proposed bill. It would have legalized artificial insemination for married lesbians so that they could conceive children in a fertility clinic. Surveys show that there is only minority support among the public for artificial insemination. If the bill is approved as amended, it will force lesbians to either perform the insemination themselves outside of a medical clinic, or go to another country where lesbians can be legally inseminated. 1

The BBC article on which the above was based receive 375 comments from their web site readers. The four postings made before comments were closed illustrate the wide gulf between the pro and con groups:

  • Wendyinfrance wrote: "Most French people I know are against same sex marriage and adoption of children by gay couples. Mr Hollande has never married and couldn't give a fig for marriage so he doesn't care about changing something so fundamental to society. Let gay couple have an enhanced civil partnership to protect their inheritance rights but marriage should be [restricted to a union] between one man and one woman."

  • Paul wrote: "It is my business to decide with whom I have a loving relationship, provided that they are old enough to choose to love me back. If I wish to make a public and legally binding commitment to them, that's up to me and them.
    You are already free to do this."

  • Ernie wrote: "Well the practical reason to institutionalize them is to give them the same rights (inheritance, access when a loved one is ill etc etc) as heterosexual couples have, regardless of the child situation. The ethical considerations is that denying them these rights is simply vindictive. The reason to call it marriage is just basic equality. Hope that's cleared things up for you."

  • Sweetsixties wrote: "The main issue is not so much gay marriage, but what is linked to it, that is PMA and GPA, many French people can't accept the ida of a child being a right, that's why the government had to postpone it." 1

"PMA" seems to refer to "Medically Assisted Procreation." We have not been able to decode the acronym "GPA."

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2013-JAN-13: A major public demonstration in favor of the SSM bill:

During the weekend of JAN-26, about 125,000 people demonstrated in support of the bill in Paris and in other locations in the rest of the country. The BBC wrote:

"There the arguments in favour of gay marriage got their outing:

  • that it is a logical expression of equality;
  • that it is just;
  • that there is no evidence of it leading to a breakdown in society;
  • that children brought up by gay couples are perfectly happy;
  • that such children already exist by the tens of thousand so need legal recognition;
  • that heterosexual marriage is hardly sacrosanct when so many end in divorce, and
  • when so many children are born out of wedlock." 1

One of the attendees at the demonstration was a woman whose name is Magali. She said:

"When I see the people who protest against gay marriage, I am just so disappointed for France.

They talk about family first, but they should see that society has changed. The family today is not the same as the family yesterday. We have to rethink the whole concept of family." 1

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2013-FEB-02: National Assembly passes key section of SSM bill:

The National Assembly -- the lower house of the French Parliament -- passed the core section of the SSM bill. This is the section that redefines marriage from the union of a man and a woman to an agreement between two persons, who may be of the same or opposite gender.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said:

"We are happy and proud to have taken this first step. ... We are going to establish the freedom for everyone to choose his or her partner for a future together."

Philippe Gosselin, a Member of Parliament from the opposition Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement: or "UMP" party) said that this bill represents the start of a trend that is not wanted by the French people. He said:

"Today it is marriage and adoption. Tomorrow it will be medically assisted conception and surrogate mothers." 2

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Hugh Schofield, "France's gay marriage fight," BBC News, 2013-JAN-28, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
  2. "France's parliament approve gay marriage article," BBC News, 2013-FEB-02, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
  3. Kim Willsher, "In France, same-sex marriage bill advances," Los Angeles Times, 2013-FEB-12, at: http://articles.latimes.com/
  4. Scott Sayare, "French Protest as Gay Marriage Bill Nears Passage," New York Times, 2013-MAR-24, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  5. "French Senate passes bay marriage bill," USA Today, 2013-APR-12, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  6. Francois Hollande, "French Senate passes gay marriage bill," The Big Story, Associated Press, 2013-APR-12, at: http://bigstory.ap.org/
  7. "Same-sex marriage: French parliament approves new law," BBC News, 2013-APR-23, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
  8. Nicholas Vinocur, "French parliament allows gay marriage despite protests," Reuters, 2013-APR-23, at: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-FEB-15
Latest updated: 2013-APR-15
Author: B.A. Robinson
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