Stop messing with the family, say the French

Carolyn Moynihan
4 February 2014
Reproduced with Permission

Passing a gay marriage law does not end the marriage debate, as the Prime Minister of France is discovering. Francois Hollande's Socialist-led government has had to shelve plans to "update" family law after huge demonstrations in Paris and Lyon on Sunday against any further meddling with marriage and the family, Reuters reports.

About 100,000 people rallied to the protests organised by the movement La Manif Pour Tous (demonstration for everyone).

The government tried on Monday to reassure the protesters, who numbered over 100,000 in Paris and Lyon on Sunday, that the new law would not legalize assisted procreation for lesbian couples or surrogate motherhood for gay men who wanted children.

But when Socialist lawmakers insisted they would amend the planned bill to include those reforms, the government announced the draft law - which would also define the legal rights of step-parents in second marriages - needed more work.

"The government will not submit a family reform bill before the end of the year," the prime minister's office said.

The protestors evidently don't believe Hollande - and he certainly has a credibility problem. In any case, with his evident confusion about marriage and the family, he hardly seems the person to lead a "reform" of family law. Most French citizens want him to reform the economy, which is limping along with huge levels of unemployment and a burdensome social security system that even Hollande agrees has to be cut back.

Although several mass protests last year failed to stop the Socialist majority from passing the same-sex marriage law, the conflict mobilized many middle class French who accepted civil unions for homosexuals but felt gay marriage went too far.

These families were joined on Sunday by others firmly opposed to new gender equality lessons in state primary schools that they say will confuse their children's sexual identity by teaching so-called gender theory.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls further angered them in comments on Sunday that lumped them together with violent far-right radicals and anti-Semites who protested a week ago.

Actually the rally in the video above seems like a big family day out and a far cry from "far right" anger. But the determination of ordinary people can evidently rattle a government. It's worth keeping an eye on France.