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Topics In the News
French Marriage Equality Bill Accelerated
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/13/13
Last updated on: 04/13/13
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As widely expected, the French Senate on April 12, 2013 approved, on a show of hands, a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. The vote came after Senators had earlier approved the key provisions on a 179-157 tally. Somewhat surprisingly, however, after the approval the government announced that the bill will return to the National Assembly, which approved it in February by a 329-229 margin, for a final vote on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, far earlier than the expected date of May 20, 2013. The fast-tracking of the bill has delighted supporters and angered opponents.

As Michael Lavers reports in the Washington Blade, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who testified in support of the proposal backed by President François Hollande in both the Senate and the National Assembly, applauded the senators who voted for the bill, as did Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë.

Delanoë, who is gay, said in a written statement, "It is with great satisfaction that I salute the Senate's adoption of the 'marriage for all' bill."

However, the decision to accelerate final consideration of the bill was greeted with outrage by the opponents of the bill, who have steadily escalated their rhetoric during the debate.

Indeed, it is believed that the opponents' violent rhetoric, which has led to an increase of homophobic verbal and physical attacks, contributed to the decision to fast-track the final vote.

As Charles Roncier, an assistant editor-in-chief for the website VIH.org, told the Washington Blade, that even as the opponents of marriage equality kept insisting that they are not homophobic their discourse became more and more obviously homophobic.

Roncier said that same-sex couples are "excited" by the prospect that they may be able to marry in France as early as next month.

"We used to be the minority who used to fight for our rights and for the first time I witnessed my minority being defended by the government and the majority of French people and against another minority who were against us," he told the Blade. "It was very new and very touching."

However, the French English-language news site The Local reports that the opponents of marriage equality have reacted to the news that the final vote will be taken so quickly with anger and yet more violent rhetoric, including threats.

Frigide Barjot, leader of the anti-marriage equality movement Manif pour tous (Demo for all), called the decision "a disgrace. The French people don't want this law, and what do they do? They speed up its passage." He added ominously, "Hollande wants blood, and he will get it."

Centre-right UMP deputy Christian Jacob said that by accelerating the bill's now almost certain passage into law, "the President of the Republic is risking a violent confrontation with the French people," while fellow UMP deputy Hervé Mariton denounced the move as "an incitement to civil war."

The rhetoric used by Barjot et al. has almost certainly contributed to the rise in homophobic incidents in France, as epitomized by the bruised and battered face of Wilfred de Bruijn, who was beaten unconscious near his home in central Paris on April 7, 2013. De Bruijn's beating and his emergence as the public face of homophobia in France is discussed here.

In France, as in the United States, the opponents of equal rights have blood on their hands.

In the video below, BBC World Wide news reports on the Senate vote.

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