As France's socialist government gears up to push for the legalization of same-sex marriage, the French people are fighting back. On January 13 a crowd estimated at around 500,000 took to the streets surrounding Paris' Eiffel Tower to show their support for traditional marriage and their opposition to normalizing homosexual relationships as “marriage.”
Reuters News reported that the massive, half-million-strong crowd marched through the streets of Paris on Sunday, January 13, demanding that Socialist President Francois Hollande withdraw a “reform bill” that would legalize same-sex marriage and give homosexual couples adoption rights. Opponents are demanding a national debate on the issues.
Many participants said that the protest was aimed at the government's apparent refusal to budge on its plans to push through the legislative measures, and the huge crowd was fueled by the government's intransigence. The display did not move government leaders, with Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the socialist government's women's affairs minister, telling Reuters that the plan to pass the reform bill through parliament by June 1 would continue as scheduled. “The government is totally determined to achieve … this historic progress that is not the victory of one camp over another, but progress for the whole society,” she said. “We take note of the demonstration, but this will be discussed in parliament and not in the street.”
Interior Minister Manuel Valls mirrored the government's position, telling France's Le Monde that “we always thought the turnout would be strong and it was.... All the more reason to stay focused on the goal of passing the law.”
French law already allows same-sex civil unions, but during his presidential campaign, Hollande pledged to deliver marriage to gays, as well as adoption rights.
Opposition parties, by contrast, expressed their resistance to the move, with Jean-Francois Cope, president of the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), telling Reuters that the protest represented a major obstacle for Hollande, showing that there are “clearly millions of French people who are probably concerned by this reform.”
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Photo of French protest: AP Images