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

Part 4: 2012-NOV: Cabinet approves SSM bill.
Catholic group sponsors large protest marches.

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2012-NOV-07: Cabinet approves SSM bill:

President François Hollande said that the bill represents "progress for all of society" -- a view not shared by many religious and social conservatives. As provided in earlier draft versions of the bill, marriage would be defined as a union "contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex." The terms "father" and "mother" in other existing laws would be replaced with "parents." If the bill becomes law, same-sex parents would be permitted to adopt children. The bill would allow same-sex couples to marry and obtain the status of marriage and all of the government benefits and protections given to married couples. Their approximately 300,000 children would also be protected.

As currently written, the bill does not provide state aid for artificial insemination and other forms of assisted procreation for married same-sex couples. Such aid is given to opposite-sex married couples. Some deputies of the Socialist Party plan to initiate a subsequent bill to rectify this inequality.

Nicolas Gougain, a spokesperson for Inter-LGBT -- the main LGBT pro-equality group -- said:

"It is progress, but also a problem."

Adoption is a lengthy procedure. There are few babies to adopt in France. Allowing assisted procreation to same-sex couples would facilitate the development of a family by same-sex married couples. It would result in children that are genetically linked to one of the parents -- a fact that some people consider very important. It would also achieve full marriage equality.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira described that "marriage for all ... [was a response to] "a demand for equality."

Senator Serge Dassault from the center-right Union for a Popular Movement party said that the bill would cause:

"... the end of the family, the end of children’s development, [and] the end of education. ...[It is] an enormous danger to the nation." 1

To our knowledge, no such effects have been observed in the state of Massachusetts which has had same-sex marriage since 2004, or in Canada which legalized SSM in 2005, or in any of the other 9 countries that currently allow same-sex couples to marry.

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, delivered a speech to 120 Catholic bishops on NOV-03. He called the proposed law an act of "deception." He said that the law would establish "... the marriage of a few imposed on everyone. ... When we defend the right of children to build their personality with reference to the man and the woman who gave them life, we are not defending a particular position." 1

We find his statement confusing, since loving, committed opposite-sex couples would still be free to marry as they always have been. Also, they seem to be promoting the belief that same-sex parents are incompetent at raising their children; this seems to be a position that they are taking.

The chief rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, wrote a 25-page report to the government, in which he describes "marriage for all" as "slogan" rather than a societal project. He wrote:

"There would not be courage and no glory in voting a law by using slogans more than arguments and by complying to the dominant political correctness."

Strong opposition has also been expressed by conservative Protestant, Easter Orthodox, and Muslim religious leaders. 1

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2012-NOV-17: Protest marches held in French cities:

These marches were called the "March for Everyone," and were organized by the conservative Catholic group Civitas. They protested French President Francois Holande's SSM proposal which as adopted the slogan: "Marriage for Everyone." The main march was in Paris and was numbered at 200,000 according to the organizers and 70,000 according to the police. The estimates were greatly decreased later. Large marches were also held in Lyon, Marseille, and Touluse. Smaller marches were held in other cities.

"Flore," one of five volunteer students helping at the march said:

"We defend our vision of what society should be like. Our first concern is the child’s well being and balance. If the law passes, it would be deep injustice to the child, who is not given a choice." 2

Alice Coffin, a 34-year-old advocate for LGBT rights held a sign that read:

"“Homophobes, we are not interested in your opinion, only the same rights as you."

Coffin and a group of around 50 people threw confetti and rice --symbols of marriage ceremonies -- at the people marching.

She said:

"I think the government is firm on this law. But the fight is not over yet and it’s important to be out here today."

A group of young female activists from the Ukrainian-based feminist group Femen counter-demonstrated in Paris. They were topless and dressed with a partial nun's habit. They painted their naked torsos with slogans such as: "F..k the Church," "In Gay we trust," and "My god is a woman." They threw flour on the regular demonstrators. In return they "... were pepper-sprayed, [maced, and] hit and kicked by anti-gay marriage protesters ..." 3

The following is a video published by Femen. Warning: contains partial nudity and violence:

Other counter-demonstrators held signs such as "Put away your Bible."

Protestors held signs such as "One child = one father + one mother," "The family. It's sacred," "For me, a dad and a mom," and "One mom and one dad for one child." The protestors appear to believe that marriage between a woman and a man was under threat. The Paris march included a woman and man kissing and holding a sign "Just Married." This latter display may be counter-productive because many observers, noting how happy and in love the couple is, might conclude that marriage access should be "for everyone."

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, spokesperson for the Women's Rights Minister and the rest of the Government noted that there were similar demonstrations in 1999 in advance of the creation of civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Civil unions have been generally accepted within the country. 4,5,6

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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. Maia de la Baume & Steven Erlanger, "French Cabinet Advances Gay Marriage Bill Despite Conservatives’ Opposition," New York Times, 2012-NOV-07, at:
  2. "Thousands march against same-sex marriage bill," France 24, 2012-NOV-19, at:
  3. "Anti-gay marriage protesters clash with feminists in Paris," Frabce24, 2012-NOV-19, at:
  4. "Anti-gay marriage marches hit France," Associated Press, 2012-NOV-18, at:
  5. "Ukraine's Femen group stages topless rally in Paris," France 24, 2012-NOV-19, at:
  6. 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-NOV-10
Latest updated: 2012-NOV-21
Author: B.A. Robinson
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