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Topics In the News
"Oui, Oui, Oui!": Marriage Equality March in Paris
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/17/12
Last updated on: 12/18/12
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On December 16, 2012, thousands of marchers took to the streets of Paris, chanting "Oui, Oui, Oui" to signal their support for equal rights for gay men and lesbians in the areas of marriage, adoption, and artificial reproduction rights. Police estimated the number of demonstrators at 60,000 but others said that the number was in excess of 100,000.

As a Reuters story by Tom Heneghan reports, the march was organized to counter unexpectedly strong opposition from conservative and religious groups to the French government's marriage equality proposals, which are scheduled to be introduced into Parliament on January 29, 2013. The Socialist government's original proposal would have legalized gay marriage and adoption, but not assisted procreation. Deputies plan to add that option to the law, a step President François Hollande originally opposed but has now conceded.

Marching along to drumbeats and jazz music, the demonstrators waved rainbow flags and held up signs saying "liberty, equality, dignity," "hate is not a family value," and "Oui, oui, oui." One sign announced "wedding gifts for gays will boost the economy."

Among the marchers was Bertrand Delanoë, the openly gay Mayor of Paris.

Latest polls show that about 60 percent of the French support marriage equality, but only 46 percent are in favor of adoption rights and even fewer in favor of artificial reproduction. Religious organizations and social conservatives have exploited this division to mount an unexpectedly strong resistance to the proposed legislation. Rather than citing religious doctrines to explain their opposition, they have attacked the reforms by using legal, anthropological, and psychological arguments centering on children.

Sunday's demonstration was in part intended to counter this opposition. Arnaud Jacquimin, a Paris civil servant, carried a sign thanking leading opponents of the reform for helping to rally its supporters. "They united us," he said. "There would have been fewer people here today without their opposition."

Because of a large left-wing majority in Parliament, passage of the marriage equality law is widely expected. France is likely to join Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden, as well as jurisdictions in Mexico, Brazil, and the United States, in achieving equal marriage rights. However, unless France acts quickly, Uruguay may win the race to become the next country to authorize same-sex marriage.

In the video below, Mayor Delanoë endorses the march.

Below are two videos documenting the December 16 march.

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