Huge protests against gay marriage in France, where religious arguments are kept out of government and politics, so secular arguments are allowed to flourish and develop. There, the focus is all about a child’s right to have natural origins of a married mother and father. There, they understand that the real issue is not homosexual sex or hospital benefits, but the equating a same-sex couple’s right to create children to a husband and wife’s.
You have to read all the way to the end of this article to find what the objection is, because they spend the first paragraphs talking about “far-right” this and “far-right” that, but then they admit that most of the 300,000 protesters are not “far-right” at all and have very reasonable serious issues about reproductive technology and conception rights.
One of the principal leaders of the protests, the satirist turned activist Frigide Barjot stayed away from her own demonstration after receiving a flurry of death threats from extremist homophobes who accused her of being too moderate and a government “stooge”.
“Frigide was wrong not to come,” said Alain, 38, a lawyer who was demonstrating with his wife and two young sons. “The threat of violence is nothing in comparison to the threat we face from this law. This is just the beginning of a programme of legislation to impose the socialist ideology of one gender and to destroy the foundations of the family.”
Many of the banners and signs in the protests made similarly apocalyptic claims about the importance of the law. The largest of the marches, starting in the well-heeled 16th arrondissement of Paris, was led by a 30ft-wide banner that proclaimed: “No to a change of civilisation.”
The marchers insist that the real damage will come not from gay marriage but from allowing same-sex couples to adopt.
This, they say, will trample the fundamental principle that every child should have a mother and a father. It will also, they insist, blur or destroy the concept of “filiation” or parental origins and lead to a shallow, rootless, immoral society. As a result, many slogans appeared to complain about adoption or single-parent families as much as against gay marriage. “No, to the anonymity of origins” said one large banner held by 20 people.
France isn’t Scandinavia. If you add up the state-by-state numbers, it isn’t even America. A crowd of more than 300,000 took the fight to the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris to protest the president’s plan to legalize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt and conceive children. You have to do a lot to get attention in a country used to demonstrations. This succeeded.
The slogans, signs and chants favoring “Daddy, Mommy” and insisting “Mariageophile pas homophobe” proved Sunday that France is indeed unpredictable. When it comes to social issues, apparently, laissez-faire has its limits.
It’s not the image one would associate with the French reputation for tolerance in personal matters. French President Francois Hollande, who had four children with his partner of many years, fellow Socialist politician Segolene Royal, and is now involved with a journalist, is not the first French leader with a complicated personal life. That certainly wouldn’t fly in America.
In France, a system of not-quite-marriage civil unions, created in 1999 primarily as a step forward for gay rights, has actually been more popular for heterosexual couples. So the strong pushback on the same-sex marriage plan seems to have taken Hollande by surprise. His Socialist party has backed away from the issue of assisted reproduction, allowing lesbian couples access to artificial insemination, promising to examine it further.
As the issue has increasingly been framed as concern for the family, polls show that overall support for gay marriage has slipped. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father,” Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher, said in an Associated Press story.