France is also fighting a battle against gay marriage. But religion and politics are not really entering into it.
For Patrick Laplace, the mayor of this trim little town, the Socialist government’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in France is a colossal mistake.
Laplace has not taken his stand for political reasons. He belongs to the Radical Party, a loyal ally of the majority Socialist Party in Parliament. Nor has he decided for religious reasons. Laplace has faith in God but puts no stock in the organized church. His opposition, he said, arises from a rational analysis defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman for family and filiation.
“And I’ve heard no one here in Blerancourt who disagrees with me,” Laplace, a 59-year-old former banking executive, said in his ornate town hall rising from the flatlands 75 miles northeast of Paris.
As President Francois Hollande’s government prepares to have its comfortable majority vote gay marriage into law, probably late next month, thousands of mayors, deputy mayors and other small-town officials across France have risen up to voice their opposition.
The movement largely ignores political and religious lines, according to its organizers. Instead, they say, it dramatizes another line, one that divides Paris, with its trends and politics, from the countless smaller communities around France where most people remain attached to timeless values in a tradition-heavy society with deep Christian roots. . . .
Here in France, the battle over gay marriage is being fought in the street and in the media, not in the courts. France being France, it is a battle that revolves around ideas and philosophy, not legalities.
Marriage is already a secular affair under the Napoleonic Code, with these mayors performing virtually all weddings, which then can be solemnized in a church. Would that Americans could address the issue in terms of ideas and philosophy!
But there is also a cultural divide between a sophisticated elite that assumes it can just change whatever it doesn’t like and ordinary folks who constitute traditional society.