Why are so many French liberals against same-sex marriage?
Concern about the Hollande government’s undemocratic attempt to legalize same-sex marriage is rising in France. The protests against this new attempt to revolutionize marriage feature leadership from sources Americans might find unlikely. Robert Oscar Lopez writes at Public Discourse,
The three most prominent spokespeople are unlikely characters: “Frigide Barjot,” a bleached-blonde comedienne famous for hanging out with male strippers at the Banana Café, and author of “Confessions of a Branchée Catholic”; Xavier Bongibault, a young gay atheist in Paris who fights against the “deep homophobia” of the LGBT movement, believing it disgraces gays to assume that they cannot have political views “except according to their sexual urges”; and Laurence Tcheng, a disaffected leftist who voted for President François Hollande but disdains the way that the same-sex marriage bill is being forced through Parliament.
Reuters likewise reports:
Strongly backed by the Catholic Church hierarchy, Barjot and groups working with her mobilized church-going families and political conservatives as well as some Muslims, evangelicals and even homosexuals opposed to gay marriage to protest….
“The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children,” said Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the National Council of French Evangelicals, which urged its members to join the march.
Americans like to think that Europeans are far to the left of them on social issues, but the reality is much more complicated. Abortion laws are much more liberal in the United States than in most European countries. And while numerous European countries have established same-sex marriage, they nevertheless tend to bar gay and lesbian couples from adopting children. In the United States, on the other hand, most states (41) maintain that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, but there are generally no prohibitions against gay and lesbian couples, or against singles, for that matter, adopting children.
Many of the French find this problematic.
“I am perfectly happy that homosexual couples have rights and are recognized from a civil point of view,” said protester Vianney Gremmel. “But I have questions regarding adoption.”
Support for gay marriage in France has slipped by about 10 percentage points to under 55 percent since opponents began speaking out, according to surveys, and fewer than half of those polled recently wanted gays to win adoption rights.
Under this pressure, legislators dropped a plan to also allow lesbians access to artificial insemination.
Organisers insist they are not against gays and lesbians but for the rights of children to have a father and mother.
Do the French point the way to a potential compromise? Increasingly most Americans are loath to restrict gays and lesbians from exercising the same rights associated with their relationships that married couples have. Yet the most persuasive public arguments against gay marriage continue to revolve around the interests of children. The evidence is solid (though minimized, due to the politicization of the debate) that children do best when raised by two biological parents – both the father and the mother. Of course, as far as adoption is concerned such an ideal is unattainable. Nevertheless, as much as possible it can be approximated.
The issue here is not a matter of religious morality. Christian teaching, like that of other major religions, is as condemning of heterosexual immorality (i.e., sex outside of marriage, unnecessary divorce) as it is of homosexuality. But the French remind us that this is not really what the political debate should be about. It should be about children and the vital social role of the family.
The fact is, if America is ever to become serious about rebuilding the social fabric of marriage and the family, government and the various institutions of civil society will have to be much more proactive in reestablishing the link between marriage and the procreation and raising of children. Yet there is no reason why this has to require the restriction of the legal or civil rights of gays and lesbians, let alone a focus on matters pertaining to homosexuality. In reality, rebuilding a culture of marriage and fidelity would step on the toes of far more heterosexuals than of gays and lesbians. The question is, are we willing to place the interests of children back at the center of our public discussions of sexuality, marriage, and the family?
Perhaps the heirs of the French Revolution have something to teach us after all.