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Is France Behind America on Gay Marriage? (France TV, France)


“French law limits homosexual union to something similar to civil unions, called ‘pacte civil de solidarité,’ or PACS for short. No gay marriages, even if celebrated abroad, are recognized on its territory. Some French mayors have tried to defy the law, but these unions remain symbolic since they are not entered into civil registries or are invalidated.”


By Camille Caldini


Translated By Jill Naeem


May 10, 2012


France - France TV – Original Article (French)

Obama's civil rights gamble: With an issue as fast-moving as the acceptance of homosexuality, most political strategists are flummoxed about the consequences of his public approval of gay marriage.

BBC NEWS VIDEO: U.S. Republican hopeful Romney rejects same-sex marriage, May 12, 00:01:30RealVideo

"It's a great day for America," exulted gay rights activists in the United States. Barack Obama, the Democratic president on campaign for reelection, said on Wednesday that he is "personally" in favor of gay marriage. He is the first American head of state to express this view. So where do we stand in France?


• A personal and electoral stance


Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to declare himself in favor of same-sex marriage, having already abolished the "Don’t ask don’t tell" rule in 2010, which prohibited U.S. soldiers from coming out. Prior to him, in 1996, Democrat Bill Clinton had even signed the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage as a “union between a man and a woman.”


Progress, however, remains purely symbolic, as matrimonial law is specific to each state. And a few hours before Obama’s televised “coming out,” North Carolina held a referendum in which 60 percent voted against, becoming the 30th state to incorporate a ban on gay marriage into its constitution.


At the head of the world’s leading democracy for nearly four years, Obama has dragged his heels over expressing his opinion. But he is now officially campaigning for reelection, and his vice president, Joe Biden, inadvertently pushed him out of the closet, as reported by the Huffington Post. Barack Obama had no choice but to seize the opportunity to address his electorate. In fact, according to The Washington Post, "of the major donors to the Obama campaign, one in six is gay."


• The population is increasingly in favor


It is probably no coincidence that, two days before the Democratic candidate made his declaration on ABC, the Huffington Post published a Gallup poll showing that one in two Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage (it was only 40 percent in 2008).

Posted by Worldmeets.US


This is all the more significant, since this is part of a global movement to recognize gay rights. In the European Union, five countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Portugal) have already legalized gay marriage; and eleven others, including France, have established alternatives similar to civil unions, called “pacte civil desolidarité,” or PACS for short. The French also seem willing to go further. A poll in January showed that 63 percent agree with recognizing the right of gay couples to marry.


• Is France behind?


However, French law limits homosexual union to PACS. No gay marriages, even if celebrated abroad, are recognized on its territory. French mayors like Noël Mamère in 2004, have tried to defy the law, but these unions remain symbolic since they are not entered into civil registries or are invalidated. And in 2011, the Constitutional Council, considering the case of a female couple, refused issue an opinion. The “sages” felt that gay marriage was a matter for the legislature alone, causing uproar among LGBT associations (lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender groups). 


NU, The Netherlands: Marriage in America: ‘Man, Woman and God’
Guardian, U.K.: How Obama's Gay Marriage Move Changes Presidential Race
CenarioMT, Brazil: Gay Marriage: 70 Years from Disease to Presidential Blessing
The Zimbabwe Mail, Zimbabwe: Obama's Gay Stance Called ‘Worst Form of Satanism’
La Informacion, U.S.: In Latin America, Only Argentine Leader Stands with Obama
Liberation, France: Mr. Obama and Gay Marriage: ‘Courage’
Mail & Guardian, South Africa: South Africa: Pride, Vigilance, on Gay Rights
Globa & Mail, Canada: From Obama, a Bid to Broaden Stream of American Life
Toronto Star, Canada: Obama Tilts Scales Toward Compassion and Equity
Macleans, Canada: Obama Passes the Leadership Test
Irish Times, Ireland Mr. Obama's 'Brave and Welcome' Move
Irish Examiner, Ireland: Let's Be Honest About How We Live Our Lives
Independent, U.K.: 'Full Marks' to President Barack Obama
Independent, U.K.: At last, Obama Asks U.S. to Open Door to Acceptance
Guardian, U.K. Obama's Historic Affirmation of Gay Marriage
Economist, U.K.: Good for Obama; But Bad for Gay Marriage
Telegraph, U.K.: Import of U.S. Culture War Backfires on Cameron



Yet despite polls increasingly in favor of gay rights, Nicolas Sarkozy, throughout his term, always opposed gay marriage. An opinion column by UMP lawmakers in French newspaper L'Express and the backing of "40 percent of right-wing voters," (according to the BVA [Polling] Institute), did nothing to change this. Contrary to rumors that circulated in January, there was never any question of the head of state [Sarkozy] adding gay marriage to his program during the presidential campaign - unlike [President-elect] François Hollande. 


• A priority for the Hollande presidency


The new Socialist president announced that marriage and adoption for homosexual couples would be a "priority" for his term in office. Expectations for his five years in office are high for the LGBT community, as has been posted on Questioned by the site, Amantine Revol, vice president of the association Children of the Rainbow [Les Enfants d'Arc en Ciel], which works to create a legal status for LGBT families, says, "He is very committed to this issue. I would be surprised if nothing [on gay marriage] were implemented.”


While still a candidate, in an interview with gay magazine Têtu, FrancoisHollande had set "spring 2013” as the deadline for adopting such laws. A "priority" that will be dealt with relatively late, as "the first months of the parliamentary session will be devoted mainly to financial planning," explained the candidate. He warned, however, that getting the legislation passed would “not be a simple matter," because of the reluctance of the parliamentary right. To keep his word, the president-elect will have to obtain a large majority in the National Assembly elections in June.




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