Barely a week after Britain's House of Commons approved a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in England, France's National Assembly voted to give homosexual couples in that nation the right to call their relationships marriage. On February 12, France's lower house of parliament approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, a package Socialist President Francois Hollande had promised to deliver when elected last May. If the legislation is passed as expected by the Socialist Party-controlled Senate, France will join nearly a dozen other European nations to legalize same-sex marriage.
Multiple surveys have shown that the French people do not overwhelmingly embrace legalizing same-sex marriage, with many French citizens joining with the church, as well as some secular conservative groups, in expressing their strong opposition. In January a crowd estimated at 500,000 took to the streets surrounding the Eiffel Tower in Paris to show their support for traditional marriage and their resentment at being forced by a small minority of politically motivated activists into accepting homosexuality.
Roman Catholics joined with evangelical Christians at the protest to warn of the inherent dangers to French society if it embraces homosexual marriage. Among the Catholic Church leaders who appeared at the event were Cardinal Vingt-Trois of Paris, as well as Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, who spoke of the “violence” of the new legislation that would “change the meaning” of marriage. “This law is violently harming a nation,” Barbarin told a crowd of protesters. “It will not mean progress for France.”
Barbarin told Radio Free Christianity that “gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society. 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.”
By contrast, liberal Socialist spokesmen insisted that the move represented the cultural progress the nation needed. “This law is a first necessary step, a social evolution that benefits society overall,” said Socialist Party representative Corinne Narassiguin. “Opening up marriage and adoption to homosexual couples is a very beautiful advance.... It is an emblematic vote, a vote that will mark history.”
Similarly, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault insisted that “contrary to what those who vociferate against [the bill] say — fortunately they're in the minority — this law is going to strengthen the institution of marriage.”
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