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:
PARIS – 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.)