Gay Marriage: Till prejudice do us part?


i’d never have guessed it would be France. Given that this was the country in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inaugurated in Paris, 1948, and which had as its obvious precursor the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the fundamental document of the French Revolution that was approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France in 1789, the news that around 70,000 protesters mobilized in November 2012 against French President Francois Hollande‘s plan to legalize gay marriage, came as a complete revelation (and an unhappy one, at that) to this commentator.

Ideally, state and church should be a ‘neverthe-twain’ set-up but, on the other hand, it is perhaps not surprising that certain religious leaders in France have once again jumped onto the anti-gay bandwagon. Hollande’s proposal (approved by his Socialist government, but facing opposition from more than 1,000 French mayors and the Catholic Church (now there’s a shock)) would guarantee the rights of same-sex married couples to adopt, which has issued a clear invitation to ill-informed anti-gays to cite their favourite chestnuts, namely ‘it’s against God!’ or ‘it’s against nature!’. While several European nations, including Sweden and the UK, allow gay adoption, at present only married couples – not civil union partners – can adopt in France.

One protestor, Marthe Vignault, told the BBC: “A child needs a father and a mother, he needs the paternal and the maternal side, and with this bill that might not be possible any more. That’s the way it is and we can’t go against nature.” And, displaying a similar level of understanding and humanity that we have of course now come to expect from the Roman Catholic Church, the head of the French Council of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, described gay marriage as “the ultimate deceit”. But, then again, can he really be blamed for following the example of his spiritual leader, Pope Benedict XVI, who has pressed his opposition to gay marriage in his Christmas address, saying that no less than the future of mankind was at stake. The Pope denounced what he described as people manipulating their God-given identities to suit their sexual choices – and destroying the very “essence of the human creature in the process”.

Seriously, could these people maybe get real and join the right-thinking denizens of the 21st century? For myself, I will happily accept any accusations of jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, being right-on or perhaps just wanting to really irritate Daily Mail readers. I care not; similarly, I absolutely care not as to what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes and their own emotional lives, so long as it is consensual and no-one is hurt.

Happy, stable heterosexual parenting is obviously to be encouraged but, given that western society has only recently even granted the same-sex couples the right to be recognized as parents, how can any serious research have been undertaken as to whether gay parents are any worse or, for that matter, better than straight couples?

And, quite frankly, no purpose whatsover is served by fear-mongering over the issue, of the kind recently expounded by Serge Dassault, an opposition senator in France’s conservative UMP, who said: “It’s the end of the family, the end of children’s development, the end of education – it’s an enormous danger to the nation.”

I beg to differ, Monsieur Dassault – first, I would draw your attention to Article 4 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen Liberty, which your citizens of yore had the good sense to enshrine, namely:

4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.

And in conclusion, sir, you may well find that the legislation will come to mean the end of ignorance, the end of exclusion and the end of injustice as far as the acceptance of human relationships is concerned in your country.