France legalized gay marriage today. According to a Reuters news report “legions of officers and water cannon stood ready ahead of the final vote,” bracing for pubic reaction.
The vote came after the Claude Bartelone, President of the French National Assembly ordered the expulsion of a protester. In one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve read in a while, he said, “Only those who love democracy are welcome here.”
This is not the way to pass legislation of this magnitude. It is also not the way to work for social change. Several states in America have passed gay marriage referendums by popular vote. This has been accepted by everyone, including those who opposed the referendums. States in which the courts or the legislature have tried to impose gay marriage have met resistance. Most of the time, these efforts have been overturned by popular votes.
Gay people certainly do have the right to petition their government for change. However, governments which impose draconian changes in social practice on an unwilling population are not representing their people.
When a government has to call in the police and set up high-pressure water hoses to protect itself from its own people before a vote, it maybe needs to consider that the vote itself is unwise.
The French politicians who have voted for this measure were elected to their positions, but they are not behaving like representatives of the people. They also, in my opinion, are creating unrest and discord in their country which can only harm it.
American government has made similar mistakes. The Brady Bill of the early 1990s was a mistake because the American people did not want it. I’m not talking about the merits of the bill. I am talking about the merits of government of, by and for the people.
Roe v Wade was a judicial fiat which stopped the on-going public debate on abortion by imposing a “decision” on the people that they were not ready for. The resulting culture wars have fractured this country and done enormous harm to it. None of this would have happened if the Court had simply let the democratic process in the states work this issue through.
With very rare exceptions (I can think of only one in the history of this country) the people, if they are allowed to do so, can and will work these things out in a manner that allows everyone to live together in harmony. However, when governments begin to impose unwanted solutions to debates that reach into the intimate lives of their citizens in the manner that the French government did today, they harm the country they claim to love. They also step over the boundaries of their moral authority as representatives of the people.
PARIS (AP) —legalized on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate and protests that flooded the streets of Paris. Legions of officers and water cannon stood ready near France’s ahead of the final vote, bracing for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering conservative movement.
The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage.
“Only those who love democracy are here,” Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, said angrily.