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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 2: Mid-2012: Poll results.
Proposed legislation. Reactions.

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This topic continues from the previous essay

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Support for SSM by the French public:

  • Up to 2006: Polling indicated that most French adults opposed SSM.

  • 2011-JAN: The BBC reported that polling data shows that most French adults favor marriage equality. 1,2 Support for SSM in France was tracking values similar to that seen in the U.S.

  • 2012-AUG: Pollsters at BVA reported that support for SSM had reached 63%, while support for adoption by same-sex couples had reached 53%. 3

There is a division in opinion about SSM on the basis of age, similar to that seen in other countries. Marine Lardennois of Dot429 writes:

"20ish-year-old students with a modest social and financial situation are almost all in favor of gay marriage. That may be explained by influence from the cinema, the literature and the media that depict different types of sexuality.

Young people from France tend to be more open-minded and think that 'it takes all sorts' to make a world. 

Most people over 35 think a bit differently. Because of the 'old education' they had, marriage is seen as a religious commitment and so cannot be legalized between two men or two women. 

Most of them said they would not accept a same-sex marriage within their family, but would support the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption for other couples.

Sarah, 52, is an Italian teacher in Paris. She said, 'I have been raised in a very religious environment and was taught that marriage was between a man and a woman who love each other. First, I was so not really excited about the Prime Minister's announcement. My education was a bit strict but now, I feel like our world as well as our sexualities are moving forward and even if religious people -- and not only -- wanted to 'erase' gay and lesbian communities, they would not be able to do so. That's how the world is today, full of different religions, cultures, traditions, sexualities and loves." 4

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Legislation to be introduced:

A bill that would allow both SSM and adoption by same-sex couples was scheduled to be presented to the Cabinet during 2012-OCT.

On 2012-AUG-25, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced to a meeting of party members that:

"In October, we will send a bill to the National Assembly and the Senate to allow same-sex couples to marry. It would also allow them to form families and adopt children."

Since both houses of Parliament are currently controlled by the Socialist party, the bill's passage is likely. 5

In its draft version, the bill defines marriage as:

"... a union of two people, of different or the same gender."

In addition, references to "mothers" and "fathers" in the civil code will be changed to "parents." 6

The bill would give almost full rights to married same-sex couples. However, as it is currently worded, the bill would fall short of full marriage equality as provided in other European countries:

  • It would prohibit lesbian couples from gaining access to artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization within the country in order to conceive. Presumably, they would have to leave the country to obtain medical assistance or self-insemination.

  • If lesbian couples are able to conceive, either by self-insemination, or by accessing a fertility clinic outside the country, they will not be able to list both parents on the birth certificate.

Meanwhile, existing legislation gives opposite-sex couples access to assisted reproduction as long as they can prove that they have lived together for a minimum of two years.

Nicolas Gougain, spokesperson for Inter-LGBT -- a pro-marriage equality group -- stated that France’s Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira-Delannon:

"... has confirmed that currently the bill will not provide medically assisted procreation (MAP) for female couples. But she was extremely cautious, saying there was no strong opposition on this issue, and it would defer to the arbitration of the president and prime minister." 3

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Reactions to the proposed SSM law by various groups:

Thierry Vidor, head of Familles de France which opposes marriage equality, responded:

"We are convinced that young people's development requires the presence of a mother and a father. We will take action to try to show that this [marriage equality] measure is ultimately dangerous for society." 7

According to GayStarNews, a group that favors SSM:

"Christine Boutin, the leader of France's Christian Democratic Party and one of France’s most vocal conservatives, called for a referendum on the issue and warned of 'heavy consequences for society' if the law were to go ahead.

The Catholic Cardinal of France, Philippe Barbarin, warned that same-sex marriage will lead to "a breakdown in society." Using the slippery slope argument, he said:

"This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall. ... The first page of the Bible, which says that marriage unites a man and a woman, has more force and truth, crossing cultures and centuries, than incidental or transient decisions made by a parliament. This is a choice of the government with which we do not agree." 3,8

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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. Joe Carter, "In France, Civil Unions are Replacing Marriage," FirstThings, 2010-DEC-30, at:
  2. "French court upholds same-sex marriage ban," UPI, 2011-JAN-28, at:
  3. Dan Littauer, "France gay marriage attacked by LGBT activists and Catholics," GayStarNews, 2012-SEP-17, at:
  4. Marine Lardennois, "The French react to same-sex marriage pledge from Prime Minister." Dot 429 Magazine, 2012-JUL, at:
  5. "France to introduce same-sex marriage bill," UPI, 2012-AUG-26, at:
  6. Ian Sparks, "France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents under controversial plans to legalize gay marriage," Daily Mail, 2012-SEP-24, at:
  7. Nicholas Vinocur, "France to pass gay marriage, adoption law," Reuters, 2012-JUN-29, at:
  8. Bruno Waterfield, "France's most senior Catholic cleric says same-sex marriage will lead to incest," The Telegraph, 2012-SEP-26, at:

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2012-SEP-26
Latest updated: 2012-NOV-20
Author: B.A. Robinson
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