The French are gearing up for a new revolution. (Source: AFP)
French president François Hollande based his 2012 election campaign partially on marriage equality, and yet his enthusiasm for the issue appears to have cooled since taking office and facing France’s vast conservative and Catholic majority. Today thousands of his voters – both gay and straight – decided to hold his feet to the fire. Somewhere between 60,000 and 150,000 demonstrators hit the streets in Paris. In Marseilles, up to 7,000 demonstrators passed by the prefecture demanding that the new president finally fulfill his promise to legalize gay marriages in 2013. In Lyon, some 8,00 demonstrated, with Nantes and Lille following at 4,000 and 1,000 apiece. Smaller groups congregated in other French cities. Their slogans were clever: “Jesus had two fathers too,” read one banner in Lyon. Other points were lost in translation, such as this one: "Mieux vaut une paire de mères qu'un père de merde". (“It’s better to have a pair of mothers than a father of shit.”)
I like this slogan the best: “All must be equal before [not the law, but] love.”
French conservatives and the Catholic Church have so far successfully lobbied against full same-sex marriage rights. For the moment, France is operating according to a provisional measure. In 1999, the French Chamber of Deputies finally passed PACS (pacte civil de solidarité, or civil solidarity pact), over the objections of Christian Democratic politician Christine Boutin, who argued that “All civilizations that recognized and justified homosexuality as a normal lifestyle met decadence.” Now she’s welcome to her own opinion. But the fact is that the vast majority of participants in the PACS program are actually heterosexuals, who have rejected traditional marriage for their own reasons. While this ad hoc arrangement may suffice for some gay and lesbian couples, others want to go for full state recognition. (Recognition by the Catholic Church might take a little bit longer.)
The French people as a whole are in favor of full gay marriage – some 60% want to see it happen. The problem rests with the issue of gay adoption. So far, only some 46% of the population is in favor of this.
The next national demonstration is planned for January 13. With any luck, the French parliament will legalize gay marriage nationwide following a parliamentary debate that is to be held on January 29, 2013.
Now that our own U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage sometime in 2013, do you think we could join our French cousins in putting this long overdue measure to rest next year? I mean, it’s not as if we don’t have anything else to worry about these days. Or what do you think?