Thousands Rally Against Gay Marriage In France
The French sure love to protest over this issue.
PARIS — Holding aloft ancient flags and young children, hundreds of thousands of people converged Sunday on the Eiffel Tower to protest the French president's plan to legalize gay marriage and thus allow same-sex couples to adopt and conceive children.
The opposition to President Francois Hollande's plan has underscored divisions among the secular-but-Catholic French, especially more traditional rural areas versus urban enclaves. But while polls show the majority of French still support legalizing gay marriage, that backing gets more lukewarm when children come into play.
The protest march started at three points across Paris, filling boulevards throughout the city as demonstrators walked six kilometers (3 miles) to the grounds of France's most recognizable monument. Paris police estimated the crowd at 340,000, making it one of the largest demonstrations in Paris since an education protest in 1984.
"This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don't want," said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. "We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father."
Public opposition spearheaded by religious leaders has chipped away at the popularity of Hollande's plan in recent months. About 52 percent of French favor legalizing gay marriage, according to a survey released Sunday, down from as high as 65 percent in August.
French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption or assisted reproduction, which are at the heart of the latest debate.
Hollande's Socialist Party has sidestepped the debate on assisted reproduction, promising to examine it in March after party members split on including it in the latest proposal. That hasn't assuaged the concerns of many in Sunday's protest, however, who fear it's only a matter of time.
"They're talking about putting into national identity cards Parent 1, Parent 2, Parent 3, Parent 4. Mom, dad and the kids are going to be wiped off the map, and that's going to be bad for any country, any civilization," said Melissa Michel, a Franco-American mother of five who was among a group from the south of France on a train reserved specifically for the protest.
Support for gay marriage – and especially adoption by same-sex couples – has been particularly tenuous outside Paris, and people from hundreds of miles from the French capital marched Sunday beneath regional flags with emblems dating back to the Middle Ages, chanting "Daddy, Mommy."
If the French parliament approves the plan, France would become the 12th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, and the biggest so far in terms of economic and diplomatic influence.
Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande's Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal's progress. The Socialists control Parliament, where the bill is expected to be introduced on Tuesday, with a vote following public debate at the end of January.
"The right to protest is protected in our country, but the Socialists are determined to give the legal right to marry and adopt to all those who love each other," he said. "This is the first time in decades in our country that the right and the extreme right are coming into the streets together to deny new rights to the French."
- The one interesting thing about seeing countries in Europe being so vehemently against same-sex marriage is that it takes something away from them as to how more "worldly" and "sophisticated" than the New World "commoners". South Africa, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and many American states have or are going through passing legislation with seeminglessly less drama.
- A anti-gay hate rally trying to disguise itself.
- The French are all pigs.
- It's the fucking French mackerel snappers teamed up with the fucking Muslims. It's called the intolerance of religion.
- R1, you seem confused.
They're protesting because they're the minority.
The country is about to pass marriage equality democratically.
- WHAT in the world is a mackeral snapper?
- [quote]It's the fucking French mackerel snappers teamed up with the fucking Muslims. It's called the intolerance of religion.
First off, what the fuck is a "mackeral snapper"?
Always blame Muslims. I love the people that picked up on this in other threads. No, honey, it's not the Muslims that are behind this. That shit comedienne is Muslim now? The people in power that are poo-pooing the gays are not Muslim. It's a bunch of dirty white French people, mostly in some sort of power, and France is a Catholic country. Stop scapegoating Muslims. We're sick of hearing it. The Pope isn't preaching Islam.
Do you realize how much power far Right groups are getting in Europe? Keep blaming that on Muslims though. How Hitler... oh, and that's right, this is the country that let itself get invaded...lol. I love how French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, got all bent out of shape over Madonna putting a swastika on their head. The irony, they forget their country's role in WWII.
What's the point? It's not a century yet that Europe was full of far Right powerhouses. What they're doing to a minority, this time gays, is nothing new.
- mackerel snapper = mildly pejorative term for Catholics
- I'm saddened and very surprised to read about this. I thought the French were so much more worldly and sophisticated. Very bad news.
- This doesn't surprise me in the least. France is a chauvinistic, sexist country. Always has been so why would they support the gays?
- France thinks rape/sexual harassment should be swept under the carpet. It's stuck in a time warp. There were articles published on the subject when one of their heads raped a woman. Don't forget Polanski. They treat women like shit. Also, they're not liberal when it comes to sex. Sarkozy's dick made headlines.
- [quote]I'm saddened and very surprised to read about this. I thought the French were so much more worldly and sophisticated. Very bad news.
Makes me laugh. Have you ever been to France? It's not Paris or what you see in movies. The real France is how R11 describes it
- The real France just passed a same-sex marriage bill, R13.
We told you the people you focused on were the minority and we were right.
- R14 Thanks for letting us know! How come it's not on any of the US news sites yet?
- The Advocate has it...
- So only the key article was passed, not the law yet. There's still two weeks of debating before it's officially passed.
- By Annabel Roberts, Correspondent, NBC News
"Une mère, un mari, un mariage" (One mother, one husband, one marriage): This is the call to arms for those opposed to the legalization of gay marriage and gay adoption in France.
Under this banner thousands turned out on Saturday for demonstrations organized in every one of France's 96 regions.
The French parliament adopted Saturday the main clause of a bill that would allow same-sex marriage and grant gay couples the right to adopt children.
Deputies voted 249-97 to back the clause.
About 1,000 people holding signs that read, "We are all born of a man and a woman" gathered in Paris not far from the parliament building, Reuters reported. Protesters also assembled outside the town hall in Lyon.The umbrella group for the anti camp is called "manif pour tous" (a pun: manif, or demonstration, for everyone as opposed to marriage for everyone). Spokesman Tugdual Derville said it would be a symbolic day, illustrating that opponents "are present everywhere in France."
The group was behind a huge rally in Paris attended by between 340,000 and 800,000 people on Jan. 13. Saturday's event, according to Derville, is for those who want to demonstrate but perhaps do not have the means to travel to Paris.
So what exactly are they protesting against?
They insist their movement is not homophobic, that it is the legalization of gay adoption that they are against as this amounts to the breakdown of the traditional family.
They say children have a fundamental right to have a father and a mother.
"We must think of future generations. Not only of the desires of adults today," Derville told NBC News.
But those in favor have vocal support, too.
"Marriage should be a simple contract between two individuals. Let's make it available to all couples eager to make this contract to each other," Christophe Barbier, editor of the influential L'Express weekly news magazine and a supporter of the law, told NBC News.
The opponents, Barbier believes, are "afraid that after civil contracts (between homosexual couples), and now marriage, the next step will be IVF (for lesbian couples) and surrogate pregnancies (for gay men)."
Other countries in Western Europe -- such as Belgium and the Netherlands -- have already legalized gay marriage. But nowhere has the opposition been as vocal as in France -- not even in Spain and Portugal, which are predominantly Catholic like France.
This opposition may seem at odds with France's 'liberal' reputation. But Barbier insisted to NBC News: "France is not liberal, neither economically nor socially. France is conservative -- and occasionally revolutionary."
President Francois Hollande was confident the legislation would pass thanks to his Socialist Party's majority. Legalizing gay marriage was a manifesto pledge during his 2012 election campaign.
According to Barbier, for political reasons the president had to fulfill this pledge: "Francois Hollande needs to deliver on the promises made during his campaign: In the economic field, this is difficult, with social issues, it's easier."
Luckily for him, he also appears to have the backing of the majority of French voters.
A recent poll for Atlantico.fr carried out by Ifop found that 63 percent of people in France support the legalization of same-sex marriage. Forty-nine percent supported gay adoption.
This does not diminish the fervor of those opposed. According to a poll cited by "Manif pour Tous" only 6 percent of people see this issue as a priority.
"The priority is the economy, housing and jobs, so politically the president should have the wisdom to renounce this project," said Derville, the group's spokesman.
A poll by Yougov for Le Huffpost (the Huffington Post's French-language edition) backs this up, finding 72 percent feel the debate has already gone on for too long.
Unfortunately for them, the real debate in France's National Assembly just started on Tuesday and is due to run for two whole weeks -- including weekends.