Family Research Council

The New French Resistance: Pro-marriage demonstrations erupt

By Robert Morrison

Robert Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Addison Eagle, Green Mountain Outlook, The New Market Press, and The Times Weekly on December 19, 2012.

"SOS" reads a large illuminated sign in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's near a blast furnace in Hayange, in eastern France. It means the same in France that it means here: Trouble with a capital T.

The Socialist government has seen the approval rating for its newly elected president tumble. Industrial decline and cultural turmoil go hand in hand in this beautiful land.

FRC's French friend, Pierre Jovanovic, has sent us news. This Tocqueville Fellow is a student at the prestigious Sciences Politiques. He reports there have been large demonstrations against the new Socialist President Francois Hollande's plan to grant full legal sanction to same-sex couples.

Hollande was voted into power at the famed Elysee Palace last May with a slender majority of 51.6 percent. It was only the second time an incumbent president has been defeated. Still, under the Fifth Republic 's strong presidency, it appeared then that Hollande could get pretty much what he wanted.

Since May, however, the ailing French economy has not improved and voters are restive. Britain 's influential Economist reports that France 's outlook is grim.

The French economy, according to the Bank of France, is expected to contract in the fourth quarter of this year, and probably did so in the previous three months, following three flat quarters. So further budget cuts are all but inevitable next year."

Resistance to Hollande on marriage is growing. Jovanovic reports 150,000 marched for marriage in Paris, 30,000 in Lyon, 10,000 in Toulouse, and 8,000 in Marseilles. Speakers appealed eloquently for each child's right to a maman et pere. Mother and father are both needed for the proper raising of children, speaker after speaker stressed.

Pierre Jovanovic noted that the opposition to ending true marriage is genuinely ecumenical, with Catholics, Evangelicals and even atheists taking up the cry. They even had a young gay speaker argue for true marriage. That's probably something you wouldn't see in America. [Here's the French language video link. Even without an English translation, you can appreciate the passion the issue is raising there.]

The pro-marriage forces in France are pressing for a referendum on marriage. They are seeking support from a broad coalition. France 's five million Muslims may have a role to play in any such referendum. There is usually a degree of unpredictability in Gallic politics, which makes them interesting. The country even saw the opening of its first gay mosque, in Paris. Which way would this growing minority in France vote? Interestingly, Muslim women may well vote for true marriage - if only to avoid bringing polygamy into French society.

In addition to France's ethnic minorities, there is always the split between Paris and the provinces. The Economist also notes what is called la France profonde, or deeper France has always had a real influence on political outcomes.

Like most prestige publications, The Economist is no friend to marriage. But it's important for us to look around the world for allies in the fight for faith, family, and freedom. And France, so influential in intellectual circles around the world, is an excellent place to search for them.