Marching for Marriage in France

James Tonkowich | Columnist | Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Marching for Marriage in France

In France on November 17 and again on January 13, gays, lesbians and bisexuals from all over the country gathered with others in protest. Their demands: legislation proposed by French president François Hollande allowing same-sex couples to adopt must be stopped and same-sex marriage must not be permitted.

You read that correctly. The rallies included gays and lesbians marching side-by-side with Roman Catholic clergy, conservative evangelicals, and leaders on the right and left to stop what many gay rights advocates have made the centerpiece of their agendas.

While some LGBTs oppose same-sex marriage, their reasons typically have to do with how marriage is too heterosexual, oppressive, paternalistic and bourgeois. Marriage isn’t gay and they want to move “beyond marriage.”

By contrast, according to Robert Oscar Lopez writing at Public Discourse, the French opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption chanted, “The rights of children trump the right to children!” and carried signs with slogans like:

  • No mom? That’s depressing.
  • Zero dad, that ain’t working.
  • One dad, one mom, that’s good for kids
  • All are born of man and woman.
  • Marriageophile, not homophobe.
  • Two mamas without papa, this is not the equality of rights.
  • I need a dad and a mom.

Before the November rally, Xavier Bongibault of Gayer Without Marriage told an interviewer:

What bugs me is the destructuring and dismantling of society. The first echelon of society is the familial echelon. That's where society is built. A child needs to evolve within a familial balance. This bill would suppress that need. A child has a right to a mother and a father. The structuring of society is placed in a bad way.

He went on:

France is one of the only places in the world that links childrearing legally to marriage. In France, marriage is not designed to protect the love between two people. French marriage is specifically designed to provide children with families.

Then Bongibault said, “I am an atheist,” and proceeded to defend the place of religion in the debate. He cited the study by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus indicating that children raised by same-sex couples are children at risk — a study vilified by activists in the U.S.

The shocked interviewer observed that Bongibault was making the same argument as a well-known Catholic priest. “Naturally,” Bongibault replied, “last Friday morning I had the chance to meet with Monsigner Bararan and there was no problem. I defended him on the subject … we were talking about before — I agreed with him totally.”

Another activist, Frigide Barjot, a comedienne “famous for hanging out with male strippers,” made this simple, straightforward argument for marriage and family. “The first principle,” she said, “is that our first intuitions are right. Face up to common sense. Why do we have to prove it? You all have a brain, right, despite all the harassment of the media that tells you, ‘You are a homophobe!’”

What should be done instead of promoting same-sex marriage and adoption? A gay man raised by two lesbians wrote in an open letter addressed to both President Hollande and President Obama:

If you really care about us, you should promote policies that urge a child’s mother and father to stay together, even if one half of that marriage is gay.

If you really care about us, you will tell our parents to put us before their sexual crusades, their carnal pleasures, or their irritations with the opposite sex.

If you really care about us, you will tell the gay community to stop using us. You will protect us from their agendas, their three-ring circuses, and their propaganda, too often starring us.

In his Public Discourse article, Robert Oscar Lopez, who provided all the translations of the French news stories and interviews and who is “a bisexual, raised by a lesbian and her lover,” observes:

It is time for Americans to follow France’s lead. Frigide Barjot, Laurence Tcheng, and Xavier Bongibault have presented us with a game changer. They have given us the necessary rhetoric and republican logic to present a strong case against redefining marriage. They have provided us a playbook for mobilizing across party lines. They’ve presented colorful characters whom we can emulate.

The success of same-sex marriage referenda in Maine and Maryland left a sense of inevitability in its wake, the feeling that we’ve reached a tipping point. France’s unexpected pro-marriage, pro-family, pro-child alliances are a breath of fresh hope. Maybe it’s not so inevitable after all.

Vive La France!