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.”
Included in the “social evolution” accompanying passage of the bill would be a ban of the use of the words “mother” and “father” from legal documents in France. Under the same-sex marriage proposal, the term “parents” would replace “mother” and “father” in an identical marriage ceremony that would be used for both traditional and homosexual weddings.
In early February Britain's House of Commons approved by a lopsided 400-to-175 margin a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales. The bill, which now faces the House of Lords, has the firm backing of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who called it “an important step forward” for the U.K. “Today is an important day,” he said after the vote, adding that the issue is “about equality, but it is also about making our society stronger.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a member of the Liberal Democrat party that is aggressively pushing the bill, added his own applause, saying, “We will look back on today as a landmark for equality in Britain.”
Cameron is at odds with members of his own party on the issue, one of whom called the marriage redefinition scheme almost “Orwellian.” Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said that “marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, and remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do.”
Some political observers predict the measure will face a much stiffer fight in the House of Lords, with the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper reporting that as many as half of the peers were prepared to oppose the measure. “It is also believed that dozens of Labour, Liberal Democrat, and cross-bench peers will vote against the bill,” reported the UK's ChristianConcern.com website.
While many of its clergy have come out in support of legalizing same-sex marriage, the Church of England has steadfastly maintained its opposition. “Redefining marriage amounts to a legislative assertion that both heterosexual and homosexual relationships are socially identical,” Church officials wrote in a briefing on the issue. “Not every aspect of gender equality, or equality for disabled people, is embraced by denying difference. Equality does not necessarily mean uniformity.”
The proposed law includes provisions that will supposedly exempt the Church of England and other religious organizations and clergy from being forced to perform homosexual weddings. But the Church of England warns that it is “impossible to predict whether those provisions will prove robust enough to resist challenge in the courts, particularly at [the European Court of Human Rights]. The possibility of a successful claim against the United Kingdom under the Human Rights Convention, on the basis that the 'locks' contained in the legislation discriminate unjustifiably against same sex couples, cannot be ruled out.”
Additionally, Baptist Press News pointed out that the law will do nothing to protect Christian business owners, teachers, and others from being forced to recognize homosexual marriage. Last October a homosexual couple won a lawsuit they filed against British bed and breakfast owner Susanne Wilkinson, who had refused to serve them because of her moral opposition to their lifestyle.
The Baptist news site noted that British attorney Aidan O'Neil “warned in a legal opinion against a variety of situations in which supporters of traditional marriage would be forced to recognize gay unions as marriage. Primary school teachers who refuse to teach LGBT-friendly curricula could be fired, and marriage registrars who refuse to fill out marriage licenses could be sued, O'Neil said.”
The rush to embrace homosexual marriage is rapidly spreading from England to neighboring U.K. nations. The U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper noted that in Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party (SNP) are “pressing ahead with plans to introduce gay marriage in Scotland, despite warnings from church leaders there are 'inadequate safeguards' in the legislation for clergymen, teachers, and parents who oppose the move.”
The U.K.'s Christian Institute noted that as in France, Scotland's redefinition of marriage would include the scrapping of the terms “mother” and “father,” to be replaced by the sexless “parents.”
Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson called the Scottish proposal “politically stupid,” declaring that “the politically correct elite are going mad. They are going far beyond what people envisage.”
One pro-family spokesman, Norman Wells of the U.K.'s Family Education Trust, said that the “Scottish government’s plan to introduce a new lexicon for family relationships shows just how far its proposals to redefine marriage extend. It is engaging in a linguistic revolution to accommodate the wishes of a tiny minority of same-sex couples who want their relationships to be recognized as a marriage. Under these proposals, marriage is not so much being extended to same-sex couples as being taken over by them.”
One of the most surprising — and convincing — arguments against the legalization of same-sex marriage has come from a French homosexual group, Homovox, which, reported LifeSiteNews.com, has expressed its opposition to France's proposed homosexual marriage law. In a YouTube video from the group, a man identified as “Jean-Marc,” the mayor of the French village of Bergueil, said that the most important consideration must be the needs of children rather than the desires of adults.
Jean-Marc, a documentary writer, is quoted as saying that homosexual marriage is simply “not biologically natural.” Identifying himself with the homosexual community, he says that “we do not have the fertility, in the sense of making a baby. We have plenty of other forms of fertility. Artistic, for example, and other forms of fertility. In my case, I feel I’ve connected with my village, and I’ve reinvigorated a village that was dying, fading. I know how to create ties within my community.”
He advised that the most appropriate definition of marriage is “whatever’s best for the child. One must favor what is best for the child. Nobody can deny, I believe, that it’s best for a child to have a mother and a father who love each other as best they can.”