‘Mariage pour tous’? Well, obviously? The question of gay marriage and adoption.

December 3, 2012 12:00 pm

Although gay couples can solidify their relationship with the PACS in France, marriage is a much more controversial subject.

Living in my little south-of-France student bubble, it’s not uncommon for huge world events such as the politics over gay marriage to completely pass me by from time to time. However, one thing that I have studied, read about in the newspaper and been quite shocked by these last few weeks in Toulouse is the controversy surrounding the ‘Mariage pour tous’ (or marriage for all) law; notably the uproar around the fact that gay couples are being considered to be given the right to adopt.

Currently in France, gay couples are not permitted to get officially married, although they are allowed to get PACSed. The PACS (pacte civile de solidarité) is a kind of halfway status between a marriage and a long term relationship, recognised by the state and available to any two people who may wish to solidify their relationship (provided they’re not family – fair enough really, incest is still not cool). This recognition by the state gives both partners more rights and responsibilities if the relationship comes to an end; more so than a break-up, less so than a divorce. People who are pacsé are no longer considered single.

So with this in mind, you would think the subject of gay marriage wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, right? If gay people can already be pacsé, why can’t they get officially married? Same diff, non?

“Dad + Mum: There is nothing better for a child” – A huge number of French protesters think that same sex parents would damage the development of their adopted child

Well, apparently not, given all these protests kicking off round France. One of the biggest differences between being pacsé and being married is the right to adopt. That being it is impossible for pacsé couples, heterosexual or homosexual, to adopt, rendering it impossible for gay couples to start a family. Which is apparently “the way it should be” here in France. Having spoken to French people and from what I’ve read in the newspapers, gay people shouldn’t be able to have kids for one or more of these ridiculous reasons:

–          it’s unnatural
–          it’s detrimental to the development of the child to not have both a mother’s and a father’s influence
–          it’s unfair to the child
–          the child will not feel the filiation, or the natural link between parent and child
–          it’s just wrong

I’ll give you a minute to try and get your head around those frankly homophobic and bizarre “excuses” against gay marriage. Now, I know there are always going to be ‘traditional’ people in the world who can’t open their mind to the inevitable change in society, but I, perhaps naively, wasn’t aware that it was such a proficient opinion with our neighbours on the continent. With gay marriage and adoption being such a new subject in France, and there being very few studies available to prove or disprove that gay couples damage their kids’ development, people are all up in arms about what they think. Before gay people were actually considered being given rights to adopt, people were very pro-gay. However, with it all now becoming a bit too much like a reality, it seems to be hitting a nerve and people are freaking out.

Gay marriage and adoption is a relatively new concept in France; welcomed by some although not by all

A couple of weekends ago, Toulouse saw one pro-gay adoption and one contre-gay adoption protest hit the streets. According to the newspapers, around 350 people turned up to support gay marriage and adoption, with somewhere between 5000-10,000 (depending on whether you listen to the police or the protest organisers) people lining the streets to protest against gay couples being able to adopt. It is so bizarre and backward to me, coming from England where gay couples have pretty much the same rights when it comes to relationships as straight couples, that the difference in the numbers of protesters in the two protests would be that vast. With the majority of people in England understanding that eventually, gay couples and straight couples will be no different from one another and that it’s just a matter of time until they’re completely equal, to live in a country where they seem to contradict themselves by saying that it’s acceptable for gay people to be in relationships, but that there is still something so wrong with the whole thing that we can’t let them loose with children of their own, is confusing, and even a bit insulting.

Sorry, France, but it’s weird and backwards and wrong to shrug your shoulders and ignore the possibility that a homosexual couple could make better parents than a completely dysfunctional and turbulent heterosexual couple. What about single parents? There is definitely a lack of a one-mum one-dad upbringing in those cases, but apparently these likelihoods are much more preferable than having two mums or two dads, oh, God forbid.

In my opinion; innocent until proven guilty. Until there is hard evidence that gay couples “damage the development of their children”, they deserve as much of a chance to raise their own family as heterosexual couples, and that should go without saying.
‘Mariage pour tous’? Oui. Yes. Of course. Homosexual or heterosexual, gay marriage or straight marriage; the rights for adoption should be the same.

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  • smcneilly1

    Couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said on this, apparently, difficult issue. If two people are in a loving relationship how can this possibly be detrimental to the upbringing of a child? People are always going to put forward the argument that the children will be bullied at school but I don’t think this is true. I had friends at my school with homosexual parents and they’ve still become confident, successful and sociable individuals. Unfortunately, bullying will take place in schools no matter what, we don’t live in a perfect world. I don’t think this is an issue that will be solved over night though, societies need a lot of time to open their eyes to issues of equality. I know one day a future society will look back at this debate and see it as nothing but archaic. There is, however, one question that puzzles me when it comes to gay marriage. Why would two people want to show their love for one another through a ceremony whose ideologies goes against their very nature? If a man wants to marry another man or woman marry another woman then they should be allowed to do so, but why would they want their love to have anything to do with the church?

    • Weson Boly

      Smcneilly, I respect both your and the authors points on this mega issue and to some extent I agree with them – in fact to a larger extent. However, there are points I would argue against, mainly concerning religion.

      I’d like to state at the outset that I am agnostic so am not coming from any fundamentalist background but I do have a little bit of learning on the subject and also a few opinions.

      You ask why a gay couple would want to have their love consummated by the church. Well many people with a profound faith in religion consider God as an essential and important part of their life and those people can be gay, straight or mass murderers. Therefore, in this scenario, gay people are fighting to be allowed to marry in the church because they want GOD involved in their marriage and want the blessing of their religion.

      It is very easy to vilify the church in this discussion but remember, the catholic church specifically, whilst having several archaic principles is also the largest charity in the entire world, it has probably done more good (I’m not saying it hasn’t done bad, we all know that but then so has every etablishment at some point in time.) – done more good than any other organisation. Further to this, it provides comfort, companionship and many other very very important things to peoples lives, and this isn’t just the catholic church of course, this is every church. So people feel very bound to their church, their community and God and perhaps rightly so because it plays a big part in their life.

      Now the next thing you might say is, well the gay marriage question is another archaic view held by the church like slavery and so many other things you can nit pick from the bible. However, despite being true to an extent (and in both your and my opinion true), the church has always been very adamant that a gay relationship is not right (look at the story of sodom and gomorrah) and this is based on one of three principles the church builds itself on: Pro-life. This is to say that one of the most important things a couple must do according to the church is to create life, and this obviously cannot be done by a gay couple. That is why the law on consummation exists (where a couple must consummate their marriage once married) – to allow for child birth.
      Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is right or wrong, I personally believe it is outdated and was relevant to a past time but is no longer. BUT the church DOES believe this, and in the same way gay men should not be forced not to marry, nor should the church be forced to change its opinions and go against its belief on the subject.
      Anyway, I’ve rambled on a bit but hopefully shed some light from both sides of the book.

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