Lesson from France in the fight for marriage

Robert Oscar Lopez reports, on the Public Discourse site, on an unlikely (from an American perspective) alliance in France in support of marriage:

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.

Yesterday, January 13, occurred the much-anticipated “manif pour tous” or “march for all,” pitted against the pro-same-sex marriage movement called “marriage for all.” Buses and trains from all over France carried hundreds of thousands to Paris to demand a referendum.

While a bill is scheduled for a vote in Parliament on January 29, an alliance of religious, secularist, straight, gay, rightist, leftist, and non-partisan sources has amassed to halt the bill’s passage.

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 BranchéeCatholic”; 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.

In a poll conducted in December, fully 69 percent of French people wanted a referendum on “marriage for all” rather than an act of Parliament, with 42 percent seeing this as an “absolute” demand. Right-wing citizens are most adamant, but even a comfortable majority of the French left opposes “marriage for all” without a rigorous debate on what this will mean for families, and, most of all, for children.

The key point of argument, Lopez points out, is that the pro-marriage forces in France are not focused on the (supposed) rights of adult couples, but on the real rights of children:

In France, a repeating refrain is “the rights of children trump the right tochildren.” It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor “Jean-Marc” to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him. For most of France, LGBT rights cross the line when they mean that same-sex couples have a “right” to children—something that both France’s grand rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, andLouis-Georges Barret, Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party, have refuted as a right at all.

The right to a child, according to Bernheim and Barret, does not exist; it would mean changing children, as Bernheim says, from “child as subject” to “child as object.” Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. 

Read the entire piece. There is much to ponder here, but one thing that gives me pause is how far down the road of objectification we have traveled in the U.S. This is quite obvious, of course, when it comes to the epidemic of pornography, but it is also a serious problem when it comes to children. In short, there are many Americans who believe they have a right to “have children”, and to treat children like projects or even experiments, as if they are blank slates that can be filled up with the whims of their parents (and others). In this perspective, children are objects that exist because we wish them to and make them so, not because they are gifts from God who come to us through the marital embrace, to be raised by a mother and father, who are also the primary educators of their children. Which is why, I suppose, we hear so many pro-abortion people says, without a shred of irony, that is a loving and merciful act to kill an unborn child in order to save her from (take your pick) a life of poverty, misery, pain, abuse, suffering, etc. This is not merely utilitarian, it is morally repugnant and relationally perverted, as if a child is like a doll that one can either invest with emotions and personality, or simply stash in the closet if desired. The roots of this perspective are complex, but one contributor is the misguided pursuit of “liberation” from nature, tradition, morality, and other perennial guides, something John Buescher examined at length in this CWR article.

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About Carl E. Olson 1233 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.