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Topics In the News
After Denmark, France?
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/19/12
Last updated on: 06/19/12
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French President Hollande.

On June 15, 2012, Denmark became the eleventh nation to grant marriage equality to its glbtq citizens. Two days later, the party of French President Hollande swept to victory in parliamentary elections. The victory likely guarantees a majority vote for marriage equality in France.

On May 6, François Hollande defeated President Nicholas Sarkozy in a hard fought election. Candidate Hollande campaigned on a manifesto that pledged unequivocally, "I will open the right to marriage and adoption to homosexual couples." This pledge was in pointed contrast to Sarkozy's adamant opposition to any law that would recognize homosexual relationships as equal to heterosexual relationships.

Soon after taking office on May 15, 2012, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced his commitment to implement President Hollande's promise of equal marriage and adoption rights. The Prime Minister marked the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17 by issuing a communiqué pledging to enact the President's promise into law.

The communiqué said that "The Government is determined to challenge prejudice and to put an end to discrimination and violence. It will implement the commitment of the President of the Republic to extend the right to marriage and adoption to gay couples."

However, some observers were skeptical of the pledge since the Socialists did not have a Parliamentary majority. The last time a proposal for marriage equality was debated in the National Assembly, it was defeated by a vote of 293 to 222.

After the parliamentary elections of June 17, 2012, that is no longer true. As the New York Times reports, "President François Hollande's Socialists and their allies won an absolute majority in runoff parliamentary elections on Sunday, strengthening the hand of Mr. Hollande both at home and in Europe, where he is pressing for less austerity and more growth in the face of a deepening recession."

Final results of the election give the Socialist Party 280 seats and two allied parties another 34, giving the parliamentary bloc 314 seats--considerably more than the 289 needed for a majority in the National Assembly. In addition, the Greens, who are part of the government, have another 17 seats, while the far left won 10.

In contrast, center-right parties suffered losses. Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement won 194 seats and its allies another 35 seats, bringing the total to 229 seats.

As Carlos Santoscoy observes in On Top, the new parliamentary majority should should enable President Hollande to enact his election manifesto and make France the twelfth nation to offer equal marriage rights to its glbtq citizens.

Currently, both gay and straight French couples may enter into Civil Solidarity Pacts (PACS), which provide some of the rights and responsibilities of marriage; but only heterosexual couples can marry.

PACS do not confer the right to joint adoption or artificial insemination.

In the video below, President Hollande is hosted by President Obama at the White House on May 18, 2012 prior to a bilateral meeting at Camp David.

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