Civil Marriage Is Now Universal

04/24/2013 09:21 am ET | Updated Jun 24, 2013

Finally. It happened.

I can now make my confession, and share with you some of the things that have tormented me.

Until now, same-sex couples could build their conjugal lives and parental lives either as "common-law" partners or through a PACS, a Civil Solidarity pact. Marriage -- both the contract and institution -- remained off-limits.

The history of civil marriage, in its expression of freedom through consent and through divorce; in its protection of the more vulnerable partner, upheld by a judge; in the equality won by women and written into the law; in the security given to children through a judge's intervention, this decidedly republican history cried out for the inclusion of same-sex couples who had previously been excluded.

I remain firmly convinced that this inclusion is well-founded. And none of the opposing arguments, especially the one in favor of a civil union or alliance that would create some sort of special legal zone, have been able to seriously demonstrate the opposite -- very much to the contrary.

But was it enough for me to be personally convinced? I was not satisfied. And the fact that I shared that conviction with a majority of the French citizens, as shown in the polls, was not enough for me either.

And so I listened closely to the arguments of the objectors.

I decided to count on people's good faith. And with reason, because it was important to provide answers to people's questions and fears.

There were many of us involved in this effort. Many members of parliament worked tirelessly in their ridings. And public opinion evolved.

Then reason began to lose ground. Reasoning gave way to slogans. Reason was replaced by passion.

But what sort of passion? Specifically the type that hears nothing, that wants to hear nothing but the clamor of its own voice.

This led me to see my responsibility as coming from what Vladimir Jankélévitch calls "first-person plural," this principle of conciliarity that allows us to return to the "choral" nature of existence.

What criticism could be leveled against a document which, given the plurality of expressions of family, brings protection and security to thousands of children? What are others losing? Or more directly, what could it be that is more precious for heterosexual couples and heterosexual parents, and how could this be changing it?

Paternity and filiation? That's the heading of Title VII of the Civil Code. No one has changed a single comma in these sections. The words father and mother have nowhere been removed.

The presumption of paternity? It remains unchanged in the Civil Code.

The exercise of parental authority? We have consolidated it thanks to this document, which will benefit everyone.

The sharing of parental authority? We have made it easier through this document, and it will benefit everyone.

The maintaining of relationships with the children in the case of an acrimonious separation outside of marriage? It is provided for in this document, which will benefit everyone.

A framework for separation and protection of rights? Nothing has been removed; these rights have been extended to others, but this takes nothing away from those who already enjoy them.

The family name, in case of disagreement? This simplifies its attribution.

The choice of locations for marriages? We are increasing the possibilities, for all.

By opening the common bonds of civil marriage to homosexual individuals, we put an end to the underhanded contesting of their citizenship. We are strongly reaffirming their rights. And in the current climate, it is good to remember that equality means access for all to the processes of common law and to institutions. Through inclusion.

And I also want to say to adolescents in particular, to those who, beyond feeling hurt, may have been disoriented by words, gestures, actions; to those who were distraught when faced with sublimated egotism; I want to tell them that each person is unique; that each person has their strengths, their talents, their fragilities and their mysteries; that this is the fundamental idea of otherness, and it is a condition for relations in society.

I want to tell them to stay with us and to keep holding their heads high.

The struggle against discrimination is one of the requirements of the republican pact. And it is something for which public power has the responsibility to continue fighting.

We need to proclaim it, in a loud and clear voice, because truths are deadly, warned Nietzsche, and those "that are kept silent become poisonous." Thus spoke Zarathustra.