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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 3: 2012-SEP/OCT: Reactions to SSM bill
(Cont'd). Organized opposition to bill mounts.

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Reactions to the proposed SSM law by various groups. (Continued):

Critics of religious and social conservatives who reject SSM based on their interpretation of biblical passages counter that:

  • The first page of the Bible states that humans are not meant to be alone but are intended to form supportive relationships as a two-person couple. Genesis 2:18-20 states: "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone." For lesbians and gays the only loving, supportive relationship possible is with a member of the same sex.

  • Polygyny -- that form of polygamy which involves a marriage of one man to multiple women -- is found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Some men are described as having two wives; Solomon had on the order of 700 wives plus many hundreds of concubines. Polygamy is not allowed in France. A same-sex marriage law will strengthen marriage by increasing the number of marriages among couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other.

  • The incest taboo is needed to prevent inbreeding and genetically caused birth defects. It has been criminalized in all countries and is liable to remain so.

  • The Catholic Church does not have to agree with SSM. They can continue to refuse to marry couples for any reason, including: marriages by couples who are insufficiently mature, interfaith couples, and couples where one partner is physically disabled. The Church currently does not solemnize marriages between a same-sex couple, and will be able to continue this practice with immunity from prosecution.

To his credit, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin did not go so far as to suggest that SSM would cause gay men to want to marry their dogs, or lesbians to want to marry Gustave Eiffel's tower, as has been predicted elsewhere.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe of Paris who is a Socialist and one of the country's few openly gay political leaders, said:

"It is very shocking and even surprising coming from him [Cardinal Barbarin], because he is someone I consider a wise man. I don't know what came over him, he flipped his lid a little bit and what he said was downright ugly." 1

GayStarNews continued:

"Dominique Rey, the Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, stated that: ‘A referendum must be held to allow a real debate and to make sure the government is not in the grip of the lobbies. ... A majority of the population agrees with the traditional view of marriage'." 2

Many other social and religious conservatives continue to reject the results of public opinion polls. There appears to be no available polling data in recent years that support Bishop Rey's statement.

Pope Benedict invited 30 French bishops to Italy and urged them to fight against the SSM bill. He said:

"We have there a true challenge to take on. ...'The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective." 3

The Roman Catholic Church regards a homosexual orientation as being disordered. They expect lesbians and gay to remain celibate for life, never forming intimate relationships. In the U.S., a very small group of psychiatrists and psychologists called the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality(NARTH) would agree with the Catholic Church that a homosexual orientation is a disorder. However all of the much larger associations of therapists, like the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, etc. reject this belief.

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2012-OCT-22: Organized opposition to the proposed bill mounts:

After winning control of the French Legislature in early 2012, President Francois Hollande planned to hold short parliamentary hearings on SSM in early 2013, followed by a short debate in parliament. However, opposition has grown both from within Parliament and from conservative Christian faith groups. Hollande plans to delay issuing the draft bill and to schedule longer hearings. He also cancelled one part of the bill that would allow same-sex couple to engage in the same fertility treatments as infertile opposite-sex couples currently have access to.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said:

"Parliament will take its time. Nobody doubts [that the reform] will become law, but all opinions - political, philosophical or religious - will be heard." 4

Nicolas Gougain, spokesperson for the group Inter-LGBT which supports full equality for the LGBT community was critical of the government. He said that:

"The symbolism is strong but they're stopping halfway. ... We thought we would get everything from a left-wing government. There are still many fights to be fought."

Support by the polling group Ifop shows that public support has dropped slightly between 2012-AUG to OCT:

  • Support for SSM dropped from 65% to 61%.
  • Support for adoption rights by same-sex couples has dropped from 53% to 48%. 4

Forty one conservative politicians and intellectuals along with religious conservatives from Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, evangelical and Muslim traditions issued an anti-SSM petition that has been signed by over 78,000 people.

A group of conservative mayors have asked that a "conscience clause" be added to the SSM bill so that they could discriminate against same-sex couples by opting-out of performing marriages for them.

Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim wrote an essay accusing supporters of SSM of focusing on love and equality without regard for the effects that SSM would have on children. He feels that having two parents of the same gender would confuse children's sexual identities and undermine social stability. Presumably he believes that children raised in families headed by lesbians, gays, or bisexuals would cause children to choose a minority sexual orientations. This is a widespread belief among religious conservatives. However, it does not seem to occur in practice.

Meanwhile, the government is under pressure to revise the bill in the direction of true marriage equality by:

  • Allowing artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization for married lesbians.

  • Allowing surrogate procreation for married gays.

This would permit a biological link between at least one parent and the couple's children -- a factor considered very important by many adults.

Senator Esther Benbassa, of the Greens party is promoting legal recognition of children born to surrogate mothers outside France. The practice is illegal in France but legal in some other countries.

Socialist Senator Jean-Pierre Michel said:

"The government has offered only the minimum. ... Separating the question of marriage from that of parenthood makes no sense." 4

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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. Bruno Waterfield, "France's most senior Catholic cleric says same-sex marriage will lead to incest," The Telegraph, 2012-SEP-26, at:
  2. Dan Littauer, "France gay marriage attacked by LGBT activists and Catholics," GayStarNews, 2012-SEP-17, at:
  3. 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:
  4. Tom Heneghan and Alexandria Sage, "France's Gay Marriage Bill Hits Opposition, Bureaucratic Delays," Reuters, 2012-OCT-22, 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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