Anti-Gay Marriage Movement Files Referendum in Protest of New Legislation

The National Assembly building. Photo: flickr

The National Assembly building. Photo: flickr

Following the passage of an historic bill legalizing gay marriage in France on February 12 in the National Assembly, anti-gay marriage movements have risen up across the country in protest of the new law. On Saturday, February 16, those opposed submitted a referendum with 700,000 signatures to the Conseil économique, social, et environnmental (Economic, Social, and Environmental Council) to reopen debate on the legislation.

The National Assembly, in a vote of 329 to 229, passed the bill into law on Tuesday. It is expected to go before the Senate on April 2, where its approval is also expected.

Under this new law, which redefines marriage as a contract between two people rather than a man and a woman, same sex couples would not only be granted the same rights as heterosexual couples, but would also be able to adopt children. There has been significant opposition ever since François Hollande announced his intention to introduce the legislation in January.

With the introduction of this referendum, the political right in France will continue to fight to keep the bill from becoming law. Though France is a secular country, the conservative religious base is still a powerful force in French politics, and has clearly mobilized to overturn the National Assembly’s decision to grant marriage equality to all French citizens.

The Roman Catholic core of the opposition believes that the legalization of gay marriage would erode France’s traditional, familial values, and has accused Hollande of pushing the legislation through parliament too quickly. The referendum is only one of the ways in which the anti-gay marriage faction plans to overturn the Assembly National’s decision. In addition, the movement plans to stage a rally on March 24. Given that the rally in Paris on January 14 drew some 340,000 protesters, this demonstration is expected to be well attended.

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