THE BLOG
01/14/2013 07:53 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Sadness for All

In the history of a country, there are Sundays that count (in both senses of the word). In France the opponents of "marriage for all" clearly achieved their aim of mobilizing support. Yes, there was a sizeable turnout in Paris. To deny that would be absurd. Of course, it is ironic to hear the numerical argument being used by the very same people who, for the last 30 years, have always denied the role of "the streets" in the democratic process. After all, only idiots never change their minds. But that is not the most surprising part. This movement does raise a lot of real issues concerning form and substance.

Some commentators have persisted for weeks in comparing this demonstration with the movement of 1984. On June 24, 1984, between 500,000 and 1.5 million people marched in the streets of Paris to protest the Savary bill. Left-wing education minister Alain Savary was proposing a "large, unified public education service" project that would integrate public and private educational institutions. In the end the left was forced to retreat. However, this comparison is of no sociological, legal or historical value. That particular movement was so strong because those who opposed the bill did not want to lose the right to educate their children the way they wanted -- that is, in private religious schools. To be clear, their protest was against a proposal that would have taken something away from them. And they won.

The opponents to "marriage for all" are not at all in the same situation. In this case none of their rights are being threatened in any way. The bill that will be debated in parliament, not imposed, would give gay people rights that they do not currently have, rights to marriage and adoption. So the people protesting do not want other French citizens to enjoy the same rights that they enjoy? They are opposed to these other citizens having the same right to get married that they have?

This is something I find totally incomprehensible. Why are religious people who stand against "marriage for all" concerned with civil marriage? As far as I know, no one is advocating for the right to religious "marriage for all," unless I missed something. Why not consider that some will maintain the opportunity, the advantage, the joy, the privilege of religious marriage, while gays and lesbians will "only" partake in civil marriage? Why is maintaining this difference -- a civil contract for some, a contract before God and in a church for others -- not enough? On what basis are these people so staunchly opposed to gays and lesbians having the same rights as they have? I must admit that I cannot see the deeper reasons for this rigidity, this egoism, even, nor can I accept the arguments that accompany them. Preventing other citizens from having the same rights as you, being therefore opposed to equality -- that's a hell of a way of seeing life in society.

As for adoption, the issue is different. The attitude of those opposed to adoption by homosexual couples is, in this case, closer to hypocrisy. Are they not aware that thousands of children have already been adopted by gay couples? Are they not aware that it is crucial that these situations come under a law, precisely for the health and safety of these children they are so anxious to protect? Can they not see that their "arguments" are completely out of sync with the reality we live in? They chant, "One father, one mother!" in the streets, but are they not aware of the number of single-parent families, of divorced or separated couples with kids, of children who are victims of terrible conflict between their parents (despite their being "good heterosexuals"), of children dragged back and forth, tossed around, torn apart by "one father and one mother"? It's as if we are not living in the same country (not to mention the surrounding countries).

And I will not even raise the issue of medically assisted procreation (MAP), because in the end the government will not include an amendment on MAP in the "marriage for all" bill.

I admit that for a long time, I did not feel a lot of concern for the subjects of marriage for all or gay adoption. I admit that it may have been purely egotistical or due to a lack of interest. But then I saw the extent of intolerance. It is hard to believe the homophobic language that began to be used in the streets and in social media. In the last few days I read some absolutely inconceivable things on Twitter. I feel that it is necessary to give one or two examples so that you can understand what I mean. These people, too, were on the march yesterday.

("Nationalist Youths marching against sodomite unions and adoption!")
("Sodom must be destroyed!")

These people were present, calling even for a recriminalization of homosexuality, though, fortunately, kept at a distance by the organizers of the "official" protest.

Let me first say that while I am astonished that certain people want to prevent equality between heterosexual and homosexual citizens, I am in no way confusing those who oppose the bill with this type of homophobia. However, what I don't understand is how honest people who deserve sympathy and respect would rationally decide to protest against the same law as these fascists, racists and homophobes (to call a spade a spade). How can they even share part of a sidewalk, a fraction of a banner, a rhyme in a slogan with these idiots? Do they not understand that in being against the law, they stupidly run the risk of finding themselves closer to these backwards people than to those who are for equality? How is this possible? How can they stand it? How can they accept it? This is not rhetoric but a sincere and sad question addressed to people for whom I have affection.

Finally, you may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned Frigide Barjot, or the "phony" accompanying her who, on TV yesterday, compared François Hollande to Adolf Hitler. Once again, of course, it is a question of form, but how can serious, responsible people walk alongside buffoons with so little credibility, and be influenced by them? I will admit that this is also something I do not understand, and that this morning I felt only "sadness for all."

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