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French President Hollande signs law making France 14th nation to legalize same-sex marriage

18 May 2013

France's president has signed into law a controversial bill making the country the ninth in Europe, and 14th globally, to legalise gay marriage.

On Friday, the Constitutional Council rejected a challenge by the right-wing opposition, clearing the way for Francois Hollande to sign the bill.

He said: "I have taken [the decision]; now it is time to respect the law of the Republic."

The first gay wedding could be held 10 days after the bill's signing.

But Parliamentary Relations Minister Alain Vidalies told French TV he expected the first ceremonies to take place "before 1 July".

Constitutional challenge

Mr Hollande and his ruling Socialist Party have made the legislation their flagship social reform since being elected a year ago.

After a tortured debate, the same-sex marriage and adoption bill was adopted by France's Senate and National Assembly last month.

The bill was quickly challenged on constitutional grounds by the main right-wing opposition UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

But the Constitutional Council ruled on Friday that same-sex marriage "did not run contrary to any constitutional principles," and that it did not infringe on "basic rights or liberties or national sovereignty".

It said the interest of the child would be paramount in adoption cases, cautioning that legalising same-sex adoption would not automatically mean the "right to a child".

Comedian Frigide Barjot, who has become a leading mouthpiece for the anti-gay marriage movement, denounced the ruling as "a provocation" and called for the campaign to continue.

Catholic concerns

Scores of protesters took to the streets of Paris to voice their opposition to the ruling on Friday: previous, occasionally violent, demonstrations against the bill have drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

UMP President Jean-Francois Cope said he regretted the Constitutional Council's decision but would respect it. Another senior UMP figure, Herve Mariton, said the party would come up with alternative proposals in 2017 that were "more respectful of the rights of children".

The anti-gay marriage lobby, backed by the Catholic Church and conservative opposition, argues the bill will undermine an essential building block of society.

Opinion polls have suggested that around 55-60% of French people support gay marriage, but only about 50% approve of gay adoption. France is now the 14th country to legalise gay marriage after New Zealand last month.

It is also the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage after legalisation in the traditionally liberal Netherlands and Scandinavia, but also in strongly Catholic Portugal and Spain. Legislation is also moving through the UK Parliament.

But the measure has aroused stronger than expected opposition in France - a country where the Catholic Church was thought to have lost much of its influence over the public.

In January, a protest in Paris against the bill attracted some 340,000 people according to police - one of the biggest public demonstrations in France in decades. Organisers put the figure at 800,000.

Since then, both sides have held regular street protests.

Mr Hollande has been struggling with the lowest popularity ratings of any recent French president, with his promises of economic growth so far failing to bear fruit and unemployment now above 10%.

by Anonymousreply 2907/19/2013

Congratulations France!

by Anonymousreply 105/18/2013

Comedian Bardot?

Yeah, she's a laugh riot.

by Anonymousreply 205/18/2013

Vive la Republique!

Vive M. le President Hollande!

by Anonymousreply 305/18/2013

Congrats on a hard fought victory. Now, on to another country.

by Anonymousreply 405/18/2013

: )

by Anonymousreply 505/18/2013

Technically, didn't Brazil beat France to 14th with CJN ruling earlier this week?

by Anonymousreply 605/18/2013

France beats the UK. Didn't see that one coming.

by Anonymousreply 705/20/2013

Indeed vive la France!

by Anonymousreply 805/20/2013

French gays had the gusto and wisdom to wake up, take to the streets, demand their rights, and oppose the opposition. British gays still haven risen to the occasion to oppose the relentless and nearly successful attacks on marriage equality. They are fiddling while Rome burns. Do British gays have any political consciousness?

by Anonymousreply 905/20/2013

While France takes the cake for boisterous numerous anti-gay protests and violence among the people, the UK takes the cake for anti-gay antics by legislators. The UK Parliament is in meltdown over the issue.

by Anonymousreply 1005/20/2013

[quote]Scores of protesters took to the streets of Paris to voice their opposition to the ruling on Friday: previous, occasionally violent, demonstrations against the bill have drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

It's really amazing that the French government was willing to push for equality in the face of the violent demonstrations.

by Anonymousreply 1105/21/2013

Ironic that equality was passed in Canada by a their French-Canadian PM, even though the polls at the time did not support it in the majority.

Something about French and Freedom. America doesn't have this. American Freedom is propaganda, not reality.

by Anonymousreply 1205/21/2013

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2:13 PM

LONDON — The French like to make fun of the British, joking about their repressed ways in matters of the heart. But when it came time to debate same-sex marriage, it was France that betrayed a deep conservative streak in sometimes violent protests — while the British showed themselves to be modern and tolerant.

With little fanfare or controversy, Britain announced Wednesday that Queen Elizabeth II — hardly a social radical — had signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in England and Wales. France has also legalized gay marriages, but only after a series of gigantic protests attracting families from the traditional heartland that revealed a deeply split society. A woman and two young girls ride horses through a canola field near Cremona, Alberta, Canada, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Farmers in southern Alberta grow canola as a cash crop. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Jeff McIntosh)

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Official word that the queen had approved the bill drew cheers in the usually sedate House of Commons.

“This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives,” Equalities Minister Maria Miller said in a statement. “I am proud that we have made it happen and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer.”

There were British political figures and religious leaders vehemently opposed to gay marriage but the opposition never reached a fever pitch, in part because the same-sex marriage bill had broad public support and the backing of the leaders of the three major political parties. In fact, it was Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the tradition-minded Conservatives, who proposed the legislation in the first place.

The public seemed to take it for granted that gay marriage should be a part of British life. It was perhaps a sign of how Britain has evolved in past decades into a much more cosmopolitan nation than its starchy, traditionalist image would suggest.

“The opposition seemed restricted to a very small number of people very vigorous in their views,” said Steven Fielding, a political scientist at the University of Nottingham. “It was restricted to the back benchers of the Conservative Party. It wasn’t shared across the political spectrum. It was an issue whose time had come. To oppose it seemed slightly strange.”

The law was also written in a way that allowed the Church of England — which is opposed — to sidestep the controversy since it is explicitly barred from conducting same-sex marriages.

The picture was completely different in France. Few people had expected legalizing gay marriage to face much of a hurdle. French polls had shown for more than a decade that the concept enjoyed majority public support, and Paris has had a gay mayor for years.

And to outsiders, of course, France is seen as the land of ”anything goes” when it comes to sex — from the Marquis de Sade to author Colette to disgraced French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, notorious for his libertine sex parties.

Politically, too, it was meant to be a blip. Legalizing gay marriage was near the bottom of French President Francois Hollande’s 36-point agenda for his presidency. It was mentioned in passing during his presidential campaign but was never an issue that galvanized opposition, and was entirely eclipsed by concerns about the economy.

Then, something clicked in the conservative heartland — which showed just how much of a force it is in French life.

When the law was drafted and the idea of gays marrying turned from concept to imminent reality, traditionalists spoke up, and loudly. Protests grew bigger, and spread wider. Opponents of the bill stirred up fears about gay parents raising France’s new generations.

A fringe of far-right skinheads drew camera crews and condemnation as they wrestled with riot police at Paris protests. But most of those at the barricades were families, children with grandparents, members of France’s minority of practicing Catholics bussed in en masse from towns and villages to march on the capital. Some conservative Muslims and Jews joined in.

In marching against gay marriage, the demonstrators also seemed to be protesting freewheeling Paris life, the image of a wanton, insatiable French sexuality celebrated in films and art — but far from the reality of many provincial French families. For a time in early 2013, France felt like a deeply divided nation.

But the size of the anti-gay marriage movement was largely the result of a political backlash against Hollande, whose popularity dived soon after his election over his handling of the economy.

The movement was the right vehicle at the right time to target Hollande and his Socialists. Once the law passed, the momentum stalled.

Even the protesters seemed to realize they remain the minority, and polls continue to show that most French people think gay marriage — now that it is a fact of life — is fine.


Charlton reported from Paris. Associated Press writer Cassandra Vinograd contributed to this report.

by Anonymousreply 1307/17/2013

The British? Mon Dieu, we always knew they were all gay.

by Anonymousreply 1407/17/2013

Real independence.

by Anonymousreply 1507/17/2013

This make Germany look really, really bad. Especially in light of Germany's past of rounding up gays and murdering them in concentration camps.

by Anonymousreply 1607/18/2013

Germany has a political situation that is hostile to gay rights. For one thing, Conservatives are the lead party in coalition government, and Merkel is not like Cameron. Further, the upper house is even more Conservative and hostile to gay rights. Additionally, powerful states such as Bavaria have tended to be very vocal in opposition to gay rights. In order to make progress toward marriage equality, there needs to be a Socialist tide that sweeps conservative out of power nationwide, and the prospects for that are slim.

by Anonymousreply 1707/18/2013

Germany might as well join Putin in Russia now...

by Anonymousreply 1807/18/2013

[17] Not necessarily, the UK and New Zealand have both passed gay marriage laws under conservative governments. In any case, the FDP, the CDU's coalition partners, tend to be liberal socially, it is more the socially conservative Bavarian CSU party which is holding back change. Being a socialist does also not guarantee being liberal socially, you can support strong social intervention in both the economic and social spheres.

by Anonymousreply 1907/18/2013

[quote]Germany might as well join Putin in Russia now...

I agree. Germany is a disgrace. For a country that is one of the least religious and supposedly has one of the gayest cities (Berlin), it's pathetic they don't have same-sex marriage by now. Why aren't the lazy gays over their fighting for equality?

by Anonymousreply 2007/18/2013

[20] Bavaria is actually very religious and Catholic, and is where ex-Pope Benedict came from. It is Merkel's need to keep the CSU on board in her government which is holding it back, were it just the CDU and FDP with the majority it would probably get through!

by Anonymousreply 2107/18/2013

R21 But Bavaria has only 12.5 million people - what about the other 69.5 million people in Germany?

Seems to me the who whole country overall isn't as laid back as it's made out to be.

by Anonymousreply 2207/18/2013

[22] Because Merkel needs the CSU for a majority, if, as seems quite likely, there is a CDU-SPD grand coalition again in September then this no longer holds true and the FDP will also be in opposition and free to vote with its conscience, hence it could well pass as the CSU would be outvoted!

by Anonymousreply 2307/18/2013

Quit making excuses for Germany - the gays there need to step up and start fighting for equality.

by Anonymousreply 2407/18/2013

Can you imagine if Germany still gave it Jewish citizens as second class status..... Such a double standard for the 2 biggest victims of the Holocaust.

by Anonymousreply 2507/18/2013

[24] What makes you think they aren't? I am just talking political reality. Canada, New Zealand, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden all now have gay marriage. The reason Germany does not yet have nationwide gay marriage is the same as the reason the US does not have nationwide gay marriage and Italy does not have gay marriage, all 3 have very religious regions, whether Bavaria, the Bible Belt and US southern states or the Vatican and southern Italy which strongly oppose change!

by Anonymousreply 2607/18/2013

R25 Exactly.

by Anonymousreply 2707/18/2013

Vive la France. Bravo mes amis/amies. Here is La Marseillaise sung at the Place de la Bastille in Paris on May 6, 2012, the night Francois Hollande won the election. It's not my anthem, but I tear up every time I hear it.

by Anonymousreply 2807/18/2013

Italy is the Vatican.

by Anonymousreply 2907/19/2013
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