French Official Says ‘No’ to 800,000 Marchers, Will Push Ahead with Gay Marriage

Supporters estimate 1 million.

Official estimates range as high as “at least 800,000.”

That’s how many people showed up to support marriage in Paris Sunday. They came from all over the country, and they engaged in a peaceful march through  the streets of Paris carrying signs that made it clear they were not attacking gay people, but supporting marriage. 

The reason for this protest was a proposed law that would re-write the French legal definition of marriage, changing it from one man and one woman to Parent 1, Parent 2. 

The government response was much the same as what Americans are becoming accustomed to: “Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande’s Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal’s progress.”

The question is whether enough other French lawmakers are willing to follow along. Despite the usual characterizations of the marchers as homophobic pawns of “the right,” the march brought a lot of elements of French society together on one question. Does the government really want to go in your face with all of them? 

Excerpts from the Miami Herald article describing these events say: 

Holding aloft ancient flags and young children, hundreds of thousands of people converged Sunday on the Eiffel Tower to protest the French president’s plan to legalize gay marriage and thus allow same-sex couples to adopt and conceive children.

The opposition to President Francois Hollande’s plan has underscored divisions among the secular-but-Catholic French, especially more traditional rural areas versus urban enclaves. But while polls show the majority of French still support legalizing gay marriage, that backing gets more lukewarm when children come into play …

… “This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”

Public opposition spearheaded by religious leaders has chipped away at the popularity of Hollande’s plan in recent months. About 52 percent of French favor legalizing gay marriage, according to a survey released Sunday, down from as high as 65 percent in August …

… “They’re talking about putting into national identity cards Parent 1, Parent 2, Parent 3, Parent 4. Mom, dad and the kids are going to be wiped off the map, and that’s going to be bad for any country, any civilization,” said Melissa Michel, a Franco-American mother of five who was among a group from the south of France on a train reserved specifically for the protest.

Support for gay marriage – and especially adoption by same-sex couples – has been particularly tenuous outside Paris, and people from hundreds of miles from the French capital marched Sunday beneath regional flags with emblems dating back to the Middle Ages, chanting “Daddy, Mommy.” …

… Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande’s Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal’s progress. The Socialists control Parliament, where the bill is expected to be introduced on Tuesday, with a vote following public debate at the end of January.

“The right to protest is protected in our country, but the Socialists are determined to give the legal right to marry and adopt to all those who love each other,” he said. “This is the first time in decades in our country that the right and the extreme right are coming into the streets together to deny new rights to the French.” (Read more here.) 

Deacon Greg Kandra and Frank Weathers have also blogged about the Paris march for marriage. 


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  • Chuck Anziulewicz

    Yes, the Catholic Church is politically powerful in France, and they certainly know how to rally their troops. But the fact remains that 52% of the French public still support marriage equality for Gay couples.

    And why not? Why is it that Straight couples should be encouraged to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together in the context of monogamy and commitment, and that this is a GOOD thing … but for Gay couples to do exactly the same is somehow a BAD thing? That’s a pretty poor value judgment.

    Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

    • Dave

      The gays can already do those things together, with the exception of building families, which they are not biologically equipped to do. Marriage is about the protection of the family and children who need a mother and a father, not about state recognition of a romantic attachment.

    • SteveP

      Chuck Anziulewicz: France has permitted two men (or two women) to assign legal rights to each other for some years now. See for a high-level introduction. That is, folks in France already have “marriage equality.” Makes one kind of wonder if “marriage equality” is really a diversion and the real objective is something else altogether.

  • Javier

    Polls show that the majority of the French support marriage equality, and this march by the rightwing extremists does not change the fact that the government securely has the votes to pass the equality bill. It will be law very soon, and France will join the growing list of nations that have enshrined equality into law. The primitive minds have lost.

    • SteveP

      Javier: marriage, in France, is the legal construct which defines filiation – a situation two men or two women don’t every need to worry about.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Actually, popular support for the idea has fallen from 65% a few months ago, to 52% a few days ago. So far as I know, the trend is still downward. That often happens with polls. When people are polled while an idea is a pie-in-the-sky hypothetical, they say “why not, yeah, sure.” Then, when it comes closer to reality, they think more seriously and their real attitude comes out.

      The idea of changing the legal definition of marriage away from one man and one woman loses steam rapidly when it is discussed in greater depth than the usual sloganeering.

      As for the question of whether or not the issue will pass, parliamentary systems are less flexible in how elected officials can vote since they are elected as a slate. I’ve never served in that type of government or lived in a country that used it, so my understanding of what to expect is limited.

      If you want to comment on this blog, you should avoid nonsense like the “primitive minds” comment.

    • savvy


      So you think a March organized by a liberal socialist, and supported by the gay mayor of Paris, is right-wing extremism? You’re the one with a primitive mind.

  • Manny

    Does not surprise me. Socialists will shove things down your throat any chance they get. Conservatives work within a tradition; moderates of either side yield to the will of the people. Extreme leftist will take advantage of whatever the confluence of fortuitous circumstances to shove their ideology. How do you think we got Obamacare?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Manny, I disagree with you on one point: Conservatives — the far right kind, not true conservatives — are just as prone to shove things down people’s throats as the far left. They also have as little respect for the people as the far left.

      • Manny

        I was thinking that was possible when I was writing, but I did a mental check of what Conservatives shoved down against the will of the people and I couldn’t come up with any. Welfare reform was popular, tax cuts were popular. Can you name one or two? I wish they would shove school choice down our throats, but I’m not sure that’s even unpopular.

  • FW Ken

    I read the other day that 50,000 died in the Terror of the French Revolution. I’m not sure quoting the motto of said revolution it’s the best way to promote your views.

    In fact, it may be that same-sex marriage constitutes “jumping the shark” for the gay rights movement. Gay rights advocates (an overlapping but different group than gay people) may be their own worst enemies.