In Public Discourse today, Robert Lopez discusses the unprecedented pro-marriage rallies in France and what Americans can learn from the French approach:
The international press was shocked on November 17, 2012, when hundreds of thousands of French citizens took to the streets to fight against a parliamentary bill redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and legalizing same-sex adoption. Less than a decade ago, France symbolized all that American conservatives despised and all that American liberals praised. Now we should learn from them.
Consider that in March 2003, the White House, irritated with France’s opposition to the American invasion of Iraq, changed the name of French fries to “freedom fries” in three Washington cafeterias. Four years later, not only did Michael Moore idealize France in Sicko for its seemingly endless capacity for romance, but Bill Maher also broadcast a three-minute ode to the French for their seemingly sterile politics:
Maybe the high turnout [of voters in France] has something to do with the fact that the French candidates are never asked where they stand on evolution, prayer in school, abortions, stem cell research, or gay marriage.
How wrong Maher was. So were the conservatives who dismissed the French fifth republic as a wasteland of unfettered socialism. In the haze of these Francophobic outbursts, few could have anticipated that France would host the West’s last stand for the traditional family.
France offers activists an example of a country that can question gay rhetoric without engaging in the violent homophobia one sees in the repressive laws of Putin’s Russia. Those who feel no ill will toward LGBT people, but who believe that there is something special about male-female relationships–marriages–
especially because of their role in rearing children, must watch closely what unfurls. Edged by Spain and Portugal to its south and Belgium and the Netherlands to its northeast, France is surrounded by countries that have redefined marriage and treated gay parenting with indifference. Yet France is mounting an opposition.
As reported in the Guardian, France’s northern neighbor, the United Kingdom, is under increasing pressure to redefine marriages, with polls indicating that now 62 percent of British voters support the idea. With so many of France’s peer nations marching to the beat of “marriage for all,” most would have expected the French to say “à chacun son goût” to such issues, and go back to minding their own business.
Instead, the French have hit the streets in what can only be called a tidal wave. News about the various alliances forming against the redefinition of marriage and same-sex adoption emerges in snippets at lightning speed. Much of it is not translated into English. To help Americans learn what is happening, I have put up this website offering quick translations.