France has got off to a controversial start with the arrival of the country’s first 2013 baby less than a minute after midnight. Little Sacha, who was born in one of Creuse’s neighbouring départements, Allier, has two mums – Maude and Delphine. And this is where the controversy comes in. At present, Delphine, the mother’s same-sex partner, has no legal status in relation to Sacha. The women hope that the government will soon allow same-sex marriages to take place.
So will France join The Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Canada and South Africa in allowing gay marriage? Président François Hollande made a campaign promise that he would legalise it. But will he keep his promise? Many Catholics and the right wing UMP Party are very much against this idea and there have been some large demonstrations calling for the law to be scrapped. The largest was in Bordeaux, where a counter demo took place too, and a full scale one is being planned for 13 January in Paris. Quite a few Maires have voiced their opposition too, and even ordinary French folk are ambivalent. Sixty per cent are in favour of gay marriage, but only forty-six per cent support adoption by gay couples. Something of a mixed message there.
Hollande has been wishy-washy over the issue. He’s allowing Maires to have ‘freedom of conscience’ and so refuse to carry out same-sex weddings, but saying they could delegate to other officials. That’s going to end up as a real old mess. If gay marriage is legal then Maires should facilitate the ceremonies in their communes. It’s not up to their personal whim whether they will or not. If it’s a law, then it’s what they have to do. The rest of us have to stick to the law.
So, it looks like things will be tense on the subject for a while but hopefully common sense and fairness will win out. Surely people who love each other should be allowed to marry, in whatever gender combination they choose, and bring up children in a loving, caring environment. That’s what’s truly important.
Public domain photo by Petr Kratochvil