At first glance it seems like a somewhat inconceivable notion: nearly 800,000 French citizens taking to the streets to protest the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened over this past weekend in Paris.
France’s socialist government plans to vote this year on a bill that would redefine marriage, but many of its citizens, both liberal and conservative, would rather the vote be put to the people, not left in the hands of a select few lawmakers.
As the old saying goes, politics makes for strange bedfellows, and the debate about marriage that is raging in France is no exception. According to reports, many French liberals – even homosexuals – oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage.
They believe exactly what so many social conservatives in the United States have been arguing for years, that same-sex marriage unfairly discriminates against children. In fact, the homosexual mayor of Paris has been repeating a popular phrase: “The rights of children trump the right to children.”
France’s chief rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, and Louis-Georges Barret, Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party, have suggested that nobody has a right to children. If there was such a right, they argue, it would mean reclassifying children as objects, making them mere pawns.
Jean-Dominique Bunel is a French filmmaker who also opposes legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. His opposition isn’t merely philosophical or even ideological. It’s personal. He was raised by two lesbians, and it’s clear from his comments that he deeply missed the presence of a father in the home:
I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that “the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration” (Article 3, section 1).
The same-sex marriage debates now rages from one continent to the other. There are deep theological reasons for our support of one-man, one-woman marriage, but there is also much merit to the ongoing French debate, even though it’s largely not being argued from a religious perspective. Nevertheless, I find it encouraging to see the honest and robust discussion that’s unfolding about the subject.