Monday, December 17, 2012

Ayez un mariage merveilleux!


France's Socialist government is planning to legalize gay marriage early next year. Sunday there was a huge demonstration for equality at the Place de la Bastille, over 100,000 people taking part. There were also pro-equality rallies in Toulouse, Marseilles, Lyon and Nantes. Conservative parties and religionists are opposing this as they do everywhere, and they have also had their rallies, but the Socialists have a strong enough majority to pass it. French religionists are carrying on that marriage equality will open the doors to incest and polygamy, but they apparently have no Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh figures there to conjure up the dreams of marital bliss we get here between a man and his goat or dog or parrot. The Nazi Pope has been spreading his hatred on this lately, France being too close for comfort, claiming that marriage equality is a threat to marriage.

As the New York Times reported last week, "[a] decade after the Netherlands legalized marriage for same-sex couples with a minimum of brouhaha, the issue has spurred a fierce and emotional debate in two other European countries, France and Britain." Like France, Conservative-led Britain also plans to legalize same sex marriage early next year.
The British government announced its proposals on Tuesday with a compromise that left both sides of the debate unhappy.

The proposed law specifically excludes the established Anglican churches of England and Wales by forbidding them from marrying same-sex couples, while other faith groups such as Quakers and liberal Reform Jews would be allowed to opt into the system.

That is intended to protect a reluctant Anglican Church from being forced into performing gay marriage ceremonies. But it added to what gay and equal rights activists described as the muddle surrounding law reform.

Peter Tatchell, a veteran gay rights activist, told Pink News that the Conservative proposals actually discriminated against heterosexual couples by denying them the right to a civil partnership, the so-called “marriage lite” that has been available to gay couples in Britain since 2004.

The proposed British compromise looked unlikely to quell opposition within Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party from those who reject the concept of same-sex marriage on religious, social or moral grounds.

The right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party has threatened to exploit divisions which it said threatened to rip apart the Conservatives’ traditional rural base.

“We feel the prime minister’s proposals will present an affront to millions of people in this country for whom this will be the final straw,” Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, told The Guardian.

Mr. Farage may be exaggerating the extent of opposition in a country where opinion polls show a majority in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. But, as in France, the opposition is certainly noisy.
A few days later, the Guardian was reporting that the debate was tearing France apart and undermining President François Hollande's popularity.
While the UK law aims to legalise gay marriage in line with existing rights for British gay couples-- such as adoption, assisted procreation and automatic joint parenting rights-- in France the scenario is very different. Hollande's law is not just about gay marriage but also adoption for gay couples, which is still illegal in France and remains controversial. The proposed law would only allow gay couples the right to adopt if they were married, not in a civil partnership-- a distinction that has rung alarm bells among equality groups.

The law would not give automatic joint parenting rights to gay couples who had a child together, nor would it allow medically assisted procreation or IVF. This would give French gay people far fewer rights than those in the UK, and leave a stark inequality between gay and straight couples which has infuriated many on the left.

Socialists and gay campaigners will take to the streets on Sunday for a demonstration which they hope will counter the outpouring of opposition to gay marriage and adoption from the right and certain key figures in the Roman Catholic church.

Last month, French activists from the Ukraine-based feminist group Femen were attacked with pepper-spray, and hit and kicked by anti-gay-marriage protesters when they tried to disrupt a rightwing march in Paris. Hollande was forced to calm furious gay rights groups after he told mayors they could have a "freedom of conscience" clause allowing them to opt out of performing same-sex marriage ceremonies at town halls. After an outcry within his own leftwing ranks, Hollande backtracked and said his comments had been "inappropriate."

Elisabeth Ronzier, president of the group SOS Homophobie, said: "This is a historic moment because it's the first time a French government is moving towards more equal rights for gay couples and families. But we're not celebrating yet because the proposed law still doesn't give complete equality. We want equal rights to medically assisted procreation. We want legal rights for co-parents-- that means full parental responsibility for people raising a child with their partner. We have urged the government not to bow to the pressure of the opposition against this law. We expected some to oppose it, but we've been shocked by the violence of the opposition-- and the retrograde, cliche-ridden arguments bordering on insults."

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