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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 28, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 39
France moves toward marriage equality
Section One
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France moves toward marriage equality

Pope denounces new law, to be unveiled in October

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The French government has announced that it will debut its draft marriage equality law at a cabinet meeting on October 31. The law will fulfill a campaign pledge by President Francois Hollande to legalize same-sex marriage by 2013.

Previews of the new law released September 24 show that it entails sweeping changes to France's legal system.

The draft law states, for example, that 'marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender.' It also says all references to mothers and fathers in the French civil code will be changed to 'parents.'

The new law would also give equal adoption rights to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

'Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development?' French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told the Catholic newspaper La Croix.

'What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.'

Hollande defeated conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in presidential elections in May, and in June his Socialist Party swept to power in elections for the National Assembly, making passage of the draft marriage law almost certain.

SOCIETAL 'BREAKDOWN' FEARED
Predictably, Pope Benedict XVI was outraged. Summoning 30 French bishops to his summer palace at Castel Gandolfo, the pope lectured them on the need to defeat the law.

'We have [in France] a true challenge to take on,' Benedict reportedly told the bishops. 'The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective.

'[D]efending the family and life in society is prophetic and anything but regressive. Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is harmful to them will in fact be injurious to society itself.'

France's most senior cardinal, Archbishop Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, warned that marriage equality would lead to chaos.

'Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society,' he told RFC Christian Radio.

'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.'

French Catholic officials have also published a 'Prayer for France' that says, among other things, 'Children should not be subjected to adults' desires and conflicts, so they can fully benefit from the love of their mother and father.'

RIGHTISTS CALL FOR VOTE
Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon called for the draft marriage law to be submitted to voters rather than passed by the National Assembly.

'A referendum must be held to allow a real debate and to make sure the government is not in the grip of the lobbies,' the bishop said. 'A majority of the population agrees with the traditional view of marriage.' Rey was joined in his call for a referendum by right-wing politician Christine Boutin, leader of the small but vocal Christian Democratic Party.

If such a vote were held, however, it likely would not go Rey and Boutin's way. According to a BVA poll published in August, 65% of the French people support same-sex marriage and 53% support adoption rights for same-sex couples.

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