Massive Demonstration in Paris to Support Same-Sex Marriage

PARIS. — 60,000 according to the police; 150,000 according to the organizers of the demonstration. The protest for same-sex marriage on December 16 in Paris was original in many ways.

Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

Quieter than the typical demonstrations, it was formed by a temporary agreement of many different parties and associations, including Belgian supporters, since in Belgium same-sex unions were granted years ago. There was a quiet joy in the air.

The pro-marriage supporters had nothing to worry about. Granting homosexual couples the right to marry and adopt was one of Hollande’s main campaign pledges, far more agreed-upon than his economic plans. Moreover, the socialists have the absolute majority they need to pass the bill.

Nevertheless, the fact that the demonstration was such a success confirmed the underlying sense of emergency that has been looming for the past few weeks. The anti-marriage demonstrations and declarations had disturbed many French people by their strength and sometimes by their violence.

Because the majority of the French support gay marriage, they were surprised by how strongly the bill has been questioned. Our reporters met families, straight and gay couples, and many groups of friends, most of them not really accustomed to being a part of such events. The same words were repeated by many “this time, it’s important,” and, “it’s now or never.” Their intention seemed clear: to raise a voice they felt muffled, even silenced, by the opponents to the bill.

Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

One of the signs read, “I want to marry my boyfriend, not my cousin.” Another said, “What would Dumbledore say?” Many of the signs carried sentences like “The gay’s wedding lists will boost the economy,” a way to reconnect social issues to the economic realm in a humorous way.

"You're against 'Gay marriage'? OK... Would you rather see me marry your girlfriend?"Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

“You’re against ‘Gay marriage’? OK… Would you rather see me marry your girlfriend?”
Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

Ludivine A. came to protest with her fiancé. According to her, “It is important that straight people, who are not directly concerned by the bill, give their support [to it], because it is above all a matter of strict equality.” Then she added that “as a catholic, [she] wanted to show that we are not all radical, that it’s the love of the parents that counts and not their sexuality.” However, Ludivine showed more hesitations regarding PMA (Medically Assisted Reproduction): “I’d rather like it not to be part of the current bill, because it’s a much larger ethical issue.”

Nicolas Rottier is a militant for the association Contact, which promotes dialogue between young gays and their families, and accompanies the former in the periods when living with homosexuality can be hard. He was excited by the demonstration. According to him, it was such a success, that he called it “a new “May ‘68” referring to the massive French demonstrations in 1968 that were part of the “sexual revolution.”

Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

Photo: Pauline Proffit for La Jeune Politique.

He was concerned by the way the official French media would broadcast and analyze the demonstration, showing distrust regarding their objectivity.

Nicolas was surprised to see that the demonstration was so successful in reaching beyond the activist spheres. He also pointed out that for the first time in his life, he saw his parents going to a march. “My mother told me: you [the supporters of the bill] need to pull yourselves together because you’re losing ground. I answered her: all of France needs to do so, this is not just us, and today this is what they’re doing.”

Regarding François Hollande’s recent declarations, Nicolas thinks that Hollande was “afraid” and said certain things that “made them march sooner than expected.” He accused him of “playing with the fact that PMA was not explicitly written in his platform,” though he constantly talked about it during the presidential campaign. According to Rottier, in order to avoid compromising himself, Hollande relies on his own party, the Parti Socialiste (PS) to propose the PMA bill to Parliament.

Nicolas wanted to broadcast a message to Americans, especially to our “friends in New York: there is still a demonstration on January 27. If they could, knowing that they have had gay marriage for one year and a half now, march under the Statue of Liberty, offered by France. Freedom is important. If we had the support of Americans it would be great, it is already the case for the Canadians who are marching with us today, the Belgians also came today…”

The comparison with the United States is indeed very interesting. The French often proudly consider themselves as more advanced and more liberal than Americans. Nevertheless, one cannot deny the number of American states that have legalized gay marriage. Barack Obama himself raised his voice to support same-sex marriage, despite the obvious risks it posed for his reelection. Hollande, on the other side of the Atlantic, seems ill at ease with his own proposal.

To see a full gallery of photos, click here.

Trackbacks

  1. […] is not the only right for which homosexual couples in France are currently fighting. Another controversial issue of the moment is the right to medically assisted procreation – an […]

  2. […] the 60 promises made by President François Hollande during his campaign, and polls indicate about 65% of French people back the measure, the opposition has been massive and diverse. Religious communities, the Catholic Church in […]

  3. […] But the bill’s proponents managed to mobilize a number of protesters considerably larger than the previous protest (150,000 according to the organizers). They did so despite the rain and despite the fears that the […]

  4. […] Rottier is a pro-marriage activist and member of the association Contact who has previously been interviewed by LJP. He was actively involved in all of the demonstrations in Paris and followed the debates […]

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