French Protestants can bless same-sex marriages
May 17th, 2015
As the battle for marriage equality in the US has progressed, it appears to me that increasingly the most significant opponent to equality has become the Catholic Church. Certainly other faith groups are in opposition and conservative politicians remain aggressive and hostile, but from an organizational perspective or visible force, groups like the Southern Baptist Church or the Assemblies of God have stepped away from the limelight on this issue, preferring to espouse their views in the pulpit rather than the newspaper.
With Catholic bishops headlining anti-equality rallies and with dioceses publicly firing teachers, it seems to me that an evolution of perception may be occurring.
At the beginning of the battle, it was often perceived that this was a matter of people of faith verses homosexuals and their secular advocates. However, after several mainline churches stepped up their advocacy, that picture changed.
The next image – driven largely by the Bush Campaign of 2004 – was that this was a fight between Republicans and Democrats. And, to an extent, this still remains true. But within the Republican Party there has been a great softening on the issue.
And as the battle has become an international struggle, US politics cannot define the combatants. Not even the right v. left accurately depicts the lines, with Conservatives in the UK and elsewhere siding with equality.
More and more the vocal opposition has narrowed until it appears that the single global voice consistently falling on the side of exclusion and rejection is the Catholic Church or, more accurately, the Catholic hierarchy and their conservative Catholic supporters (lay Catholics in the US and in “Catholic countries” are often largely supportive of equality).
I think that it is clear that there is a strong movement towards increasing acceptance of gay people – and their family units – within the community of faith both in the US and globally. But too often this is loudly and publicly rejected by Catholic leaders who see it as contrary to teachings of the Church.
For example, this week a Catholic PFLAG mom had organized a multi-denominational conference about welcoming gay people into the body of faith. But at the last minute, the Bishop of Charlotte, SC, refused to allow the meeting within Catholic space.
Myers Park Baptist church stepped in offering a last minute change of venue.
“We are a part of a network of other Baptist churches who have covenanted together to welcome and affirm all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. When the news broke about the bishop, members of our LGBT community reached out. If there’s any church in Charlotte that should be hosting this, it’s us,” said Chrissy Williamson with Myers Park Baptist Church.
The take-away is that irrespective of local parish support, the Catholic Church’s power structure remains hostile and rejecting.
But I wonder whether the Catholic Church’s increasingly leading role has not allowed for more acceptance in non-Catholic circles. As opposition to gay marriage becomes more and more a “Catholic thing”, perhaps this will free some Protestants to be more supportive than they might otherwise be.
As noted above, massive street protests in France were largely identified as Catholic. Joining them were prominent US Catholic anti-equality voices such as Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage. The struggle there was largely Conservative Catholics v. Everyone Else.
I wonder whether this, in some measure, played into the decision today of France’s main Protestant church to allow blessing of same-sex unions. (France24.com)
The United Protestant Church of France, which counts around 250,000 members across the country, adopted the reform during a national synod held in the Mediterranean city of Sète meant to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Ninety-four representatives of the protestant group voted in favour of the measure, with only three voting against it, a church spokesman told the press on Sunday.
It may well be that by ratcheting up the argument that one must vote against equality because “this is our doctrine”, the Catholic Church may have caused others to recognize “but it may not be mine”.
I don’t think by any means that this means that the Southern Baptists or other conservative denominations in the US are going to change policy on gay unions any time soon.
But I do know that for many Protestants, “what the Catholics do” is reason enough to bring into question ideological or theological positions. And hardcore positions on contraception and divorce have been weakened rather than strengthened in Protestant circles by being so closely tied to Catholic dogma. Perhaps the obstinance of some like Bishop Cordileone may prove to be in our favor.
French President Hollande Signs Marriage Bill
May 18th, 2013
One day after the Constitutional Council declared that the marriage equality and adoption bill passed constitutional muster, French President François Hollande has signed the bill into law. This makes France the fourteenth nation worldwide and the ninth in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said the first same-sex marriages could take place as early as June.
In an apparent reference to ongoing sometimes-violent protests against the bill (another major protest is scheduled for May 26 in Paris), Hollande said, “I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption of these marriages.”
France’s Marriage Equality Bill Clears Final Hurdle
May 17th, 2013
France’s Constitutional Council turned back a challenge by marriage equality opponents and gave its approval to the marriage bill passed by the National Assembly in April. After the historic vote, opponents appealed to the Constitutional Council in a final attempt to derail the measure before it goes to President François Hollande for his signature. According to The Local:
France made history on April 23 when it became the 14th country to vote gay marriage into law but opposition UMP deputies referred the bill to the Council, which has the right to throw it out if it is against the country’s constitution.
However “Les Sages” as the council members are known has suggested they would not intervene with the wishes of parliament and on Friday they stuck to their word.
A statement by the council said that gay adoption did not automatically mean the “right to a child” and that the “interest of the child” would be the overriding factor in such cases.
Hollande has said that he may sign the bill as soon as tomorrow. Marriages will begin sometime in June.
France’s National Assembly Gives Final Approval to Marriage Equality
April 23rd, 2013
Moments ago, France’s National Assembly gave its final approval to a marriage and adoption equality bill in a 331-225 vote. Opponents are likely to appeal to the Constitutional Commission for a ruling on the bill’s constitutionality, but if that effort fails, the bill will be signed into law by President Hollande and published in the Official Journal. France will then become the fourteenth nation to provide marriage equality for its same-sex couples.
The countries which currently provide marriage equality are:
- Netherlands (2001)
- Belgium (2003)
- Spain (2005)
- Canada (2005)
- South Africa (2006)
- Norway (2009)
- Sweden (2009)
- Portugal (2010)
- Iceland (2010)
- Argentina (2010)
- Denmark (2012)
- Uruguay (2013)
- New Zealand (2013)
Same-sex marriage is also legal in parts of Brazil, Mexico, and in nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three Native American tribes.
The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 23
April 23rd, 2013
France’s National Assembly To Cast Final Vote on Marriage Equality: Paris. After the French Senate gave its approval to a bill providing marriage and adoption equality for same-sex couples, the bill returned to the lower house to ratify some of the changes made in the Senate after the National Assembly passed its version in February. The National Assembly began debating the final version of the bill last week, and its is expected to complete its work today with a final, final vote. It can’t come too soon. Anti-gay opponents to equality have been whipping up a violent backlash in recent weeks, with assaults on gay people being reported in several cities. Opponents have also threatened the life of the National Assembly’s president, and warn of “blood” and “civil war” if the bill passes.
Assuming the bill does pass the National Assembly as expected today, its next stop might be a referral to the Constitutional Council in an effort to have the law declared unconstitutional. That would happen if sixty Senators or sixty deputies agree to refer the bill to the Council. If that effort fails or of the Council clears the law, it will then be signed into law by President Hollande and published in the Official Journal.
Delaware House to Vote on Marriage Equality Bill: Dover, DE. Things are moving rather quickly in the First State. It was less than two weeks ago that a bill providing marriage equality was introduced in the Delaware House. Within a week, HB 75 quickly moved from the House Administrative Committee to the House floor. The bill has 17 House co-sponsors out of the 41-member chamber. Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) the bill’s primary sponsor, believes the House will approve the bill and send it to the Senate.
Rhode Island Senate Committee to Consider Marriage Equality Bill: Providence, RI. The state Senate is made up of 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent, so you’d think that a bill granting marriage quality to same-sex couples would be a sure thing, especially considering how easily it passed the House in a 51-19 vote in January. But the Senate is led by Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Jamestown, Newport), who opposes legalizing same-sex marriage and in years past vowed to block it from coming to a vote in the Senate. This year, she said that she would a committee to hold hearings on the bill, but she has previously ensured that the selected committee would deep-six any attempts to bring marriage equality to the Senate Floor. The bill today is before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Providence Journal is having trouble reading the tea leaves:
But the committee will vote on bills that are different from those introduced weeks ago. The new versions were posted Monday afternoon.
One bill, S 38, is now identical to its companion bill in the House 5015, Sub B. Both would legalize same-sex marriage and contain expanded protections for religiously affiliated organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
The third bill, S708, would put the issue before voters. But it no longer includes protections for individual small business owners who oppose same-sex marriage.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Hate Crimes Statistics Act Signed Into Law: 1990. Following strong support from the Administration and Congress, President George H.W. Bush signed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act into law in a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building which, for the first time, included LGBT advocates, along with representatives from the ACLU, NAACP, and other groups that had criticized Bush’s record on civil rights. The LGBT representatives were invited only after agreeing not to turn the signing ceremony into an opportunity to protest the Bush administration’s AIDS policies. The law, which requires the Justice Department to institute a program to systematically collect hate crime statistics based on race, religion, ethnic background and/or sexual orientation, was the first federal law to specifically identify gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The Justice Department and FBI have been issuing annual Hate Crime reports since 1992. All reports from 1995 on are available on the web.
Sen. Rick Santorum’s “Man On Dog” Interview: 2003. In an interview printed in USA Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was in the midst of blaming the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals on liberals and the “right to privacy lifestyle” (which Santorum made abundantly clear that he did not accept), Santorum then cast his eye toward the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which would strike down sodomy laws later that summer. Santorum defended sodomy laws and lanched his most infamous polemic against gay families:
AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?
SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.
Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —
AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.
The AP reporter wasn’t the only one freaking out. Dan Savage wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Santorum out for his blatant bigotry. Noting that Sen. Trent Lott had lost his post as Senate majority leader over remarks praising staunch segregationist Sen. Stromm Thurmond’s (R-SC) 1948 presidential bid, Santorum was assured of escaping this outrage with no sanctions. “Unlike the former majority leader, Mr. Santorum didn’t slip up and say something in plain English that every good Republican knows must only be said in code. Unlike Republican appeals to racist voters, Republican appeals to homophobic voters are overt.”
But a month later, Santorum’s comments were largely forgotten, except among the LGBT community. Lamenting that “the Santorum scandal didn’t have legs,” a 23-year-old reader of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column suggested holding a contest to “‘include’ (Santorum) in our sex lives–by naming a gay sex act after him.” Savage agreed, and invited readers to send in their suggestions. By June, the votes were counted, and a definition was promulgated:
Hey, everybody: We have a winner. Savage Love readers, by a wide margin, want Sen. Rick Santorum’s name to stand for… THAT FROTHY MIXTURE OF LUBE AND FECAL MATTER THAT IS SOMETIMES THE BYPRODUCT OF ANAL SEX! It was a landslide for that frothy mixture; the runner-up, farting in the face of someone who’s rimming you, came in a distant second. So congratulations to WUTSAP, who nominated that frothy mixture, and a big thank you to the thousands who voted.
The definition was created, but it still wasn’t obvious that Santorum’s name would be equated with the aforementioned byproduct. Four months after Santorum’s infamous comments and two months after the definition was created, the neologism was still struggling to catch on. It wasn’t until the end of the year when a new web site was created that SpreadingSantorum ended up becoming the most successful Google bomb in history. And with that, a callow comment which almost faded into history has become the name by which Santorum will be known for the rest of his life.
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
Gunpowder Mailed to French Parliament President, Gay Couple Beaten In Nice
April 22nd, 2013
This morning, France’s National Assembly, its lower house, resumes debate over a marriage and adoption equality bill, with a final vote expected to take place tomorrow. Also this morning, National Assembly president, Claude Bartolone received a threatening letter containing gunpowder and a threat of “war” if the house passes the bill:
The one-page letter, signed by “an intermediary of law enforcement,” warns Bartolone that “our methods are more radical and more swift than protests”, according to French magazine L’Express.
The document concludes with the statement “You wanted war, and you’ve got it.”
…”Allowing marriage for all would be the same as destroying all marriage,” the letter says, before making the chilling threat: “If you were to carry on regardless, your political family will have to suffer physically.”
Last week, Socialist deputies Sylviane Bulteau and Hugues Fourage were sent letters from anti-gay marriage extremists, threatening to kidnap and kill them or their loved ones, if the gay marriage bill is not withdrawn.
The letter appears to come from the same source as one sent last March to a judge investigating former President Nicolas Sarkozy. That investigation will now broaden to include this latest letter.
There are continuing reports of anti-gay violence breaking out in France. Last weekend, Raphaël Leclerc and his boyfriend were punched and kicked by three men as they left a night club in Nice early Saturday morning:
“I left the nightclub with my boyfriend at around 5.35am on Saturday. We were not kissing and we were not holding hands,” explained the 24-year-old cabaret dancer. “A couple of minutes later there were three , who were shouting “hey gays” at us, and then they ran at us.”
The victim was then asked by his aggressors if he was French or Chechen. He replied French before being set upon. He was punched and kicked until he lost consciousness.
French Anti-Gay Protests Turn Violent
April 18th, 2013
France is in the midst of a national debate over marriage equality, with anti-gay activists predicting — and even advocating — violence in the streets if they don’t get their way. That violence has already occurred in the past month, and it now looks like it’s spreading:
Meanwhile in the northern city of Lille, three employees of a gay bar were insulted and injured late Wednesday in an attack by four men who smashed its windows. The bar’s owner linked the incident to “tensions” surrounding the parliament vote.
“I was hit by a chair,” thrown through the window, he told AFP.
Police later detained the suspects.
Ongoing right-wing protests in Paris and Versailles against the marriage equality bill have also turned violent:
Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned acts of violence during the protests “in spite of promises made by the organisers”.
Several people were detained for questioning after cars and public property were damaged and police officers and journalists attacked, said Valls. Police put the number of detentions at 11. … The day before, some 2,700 opponents had gathered in Versailles outside the capital to protest the bill, leading to scuffles with police.
Police also detained twenty-four counter protesters at an anti-homophobia counter-protest.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and President Francois Hollande have condemned the violence and called for calm:
“Homophobic acts, violent acts have been committed. The right to protest is recognised by our constitution and accepted by the French. But no protest must degenerate,” Hollande said.
The National Assembly, Parliament’s lower house, began debate on the Senate’s final version of the marriage equality bill late Wednesday, and is expected to take its final vote on April 23. Opponents have promised more mass demonstrations next week.
Opponents Call for “Blood” as France Fast-Tracks Remaining Marriage Votes
April 12th, 2013
As reported earlier, France’s Senate gave its nearly final approval to a bill providing same-sex couples marriage and adoption rights today. Because the Senate made some minor changes, it had to go back to the National Assembly for its consent, and then back to the Senate for a final vote. All of that was expected to take about a month, with a final Senate vote taking place in late May. But the ruling Socialists said the bill would return to the National Assembly by next Wednesday, which is far earlier than expected, and well ahead of a planned demonstration by anti-gay forces scheduled for May 26. That has opponents calling for “blood”:
“This is a disgrace. The French people don’t want this law, and what do they do? They speed up its passage. Hollande wants blood, and he will get it,” Barjot was quoted as saying by France’s TF1, adding “We live in a dictatorship. The President of the Republic has guillotined us.”
Centre-right UMP deputy Christian Jacob joined the fray, saying in a statement that by accelerating the bill’s now almost certain passage into law, “the President of the Republic is risking a violent confrontation with the French people.”
Fellow UMP deputy Hervé Mariton denounced the move as “an incitement to civil war.”
This rhetoric naturally is very worrisome to LGBT advocates who fear a continuing rise in anti-gay violence.
French Senate Approves Marriage and Adoption Equality
April 12th, 2013
The French Senate, in a show-of-hands vote, gave its stamp of approval on a package of legislation that will provide marriage and adoption equality for same-sex couples. The bill will go back to both the Senate and National Assembly for a final technical second readings in late May.
France’s beating victim becomes face of marriage movement
April 11th, 2013
As France concludes its drive towards equality, a victim of a homophobic beating has become the face of the movement. Earlier this week, Wilfred de Bruijn was beaten unconscious by anti-gay hooligans, and equality supporters have used pictures of his cut and bruised face in placards at rallies and social media to show the nation the consequences of the Catholic Church’s message of opposition.
Anti-gay activists, such as those at the National Organization for Marriage (which has strongly pushed and promoted France’s anti-marriage movement), pretend that they only support the sanctity of marriage. They seek to distinguish their marriage-for-anyone-but-gays movement from the motivations and attitudes that lead to violence against gay people, asserting (despite significant evidence to the contrary) that they love gay people, they just are looking out for children.
But de Bruijn very eloquently ties it together: (WaPo)
“What (the anti-gay marriage campaign) are saying is that they’re not homophobic: lesbians and gays are nice people, but don’t let them get close to children — that’s very dangerous. It’s OK for them to live together, but not like other couples with the same protection because it’s not really the same thing,” De Bruijn said.
“These people are all professionals of the spoken word. They know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course it will have a result.”
When such things as these happen, the anti-gays rush to denounce the specific act and claim no connection. “No, we love the homosexual, don’t blame us for the beatings and the expressions of hatred.”
But the connection is clear. The increased anti-gay hate speech surrounding the 2004 anti-gay presidential campaign in the US, the murder of David Kato following the Kampala Conference, and the spike in anti-gay violence in France now are not coincidental.
“It was not Frigide Barjot who was hitting my head, or the bishop of Avignon lurking in that street to attack us,” he said. “But they are responsible.”
French Marriage Equality Bill Passes Key Vote (Updated)
April 10th, 2013
The Washington Blade passes along the info:
The French Senate on Tuesday approved a proposed amendment to a same-sex marriage and adoption bill that would extend nuptials to gays and lesbians.
Le Monde reported the provision passed by a 179-157 vote margin after senators debated it for more than 10 hours — lawmakers on April 2 began to consider the same-sex marriage and adoption bill the National Assembly approved in February by a 329-229 vote margin.
…French lawmakers still need to consider the bill’s remaining provision before it receives final approval, but observers noted the same-sex marriage amendment was the most important hurdle that supporters had to overcome.
The marriage equality law is in multiple parts, and opponents of marriage equality have apparently proposed numerous amendments, according to John Avarosis. He says votes will continue to be taken on various proposals for another month or so. But the most important vote occurred today, making marriage equality a done deal sometime this summer.
Update: This AFP story says the final votes for the full bill will take place Thursday or Friday.
French Assembly passes marriage
February 12th, 2013
France’ National Assembly has now voted to allow same sex couples to marry and adopt children: (AP)
President François Hollande’s Socialists pushed the measure through the national assembly, carrying a vote by 329 to 229.
The assembly has been debating the bill and voting on individual articles in recent weeks. The bill now goes to the senate, which is also controlled by the Socialists and their allies.
France’s Assembly votes today
February 12th, 2013
Having sat through some 5,000 proposed amendments, France’s National Assembly is ready to vote. Again.
After today’s expected victory, the bill will move to the nation’s Senate.
Marriage passes first hurdle in France
February 2nd, 2013
Today the French Parliament voted on a key element of the marriage bill. (France24)
France’s marriage equality bill cleared its first and main hurdle on Saturday when lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the most important article of the new law, redefining marriage as an agreement between two people of opposite or same sex.
The article was approved 249-97, with most deputies from the ruling Socialist Party (PS) voting in favour, and all but one of the conservative UMP party’s representatives voting against. The two far-right National Front (FN) deputies opposed the bill, and the party called on its supporters to join Catholic-driven protests against it.
Such a strong majority suggests that the bill is certain to pass on February 12th.
France begins debating equality
January 29th, 2013
The equality bill now has been introduced into the French Paliament and debate is expected to go on for weeks. In a last ditch effort, anti-gay activists have placed banners on the city’s bridges insisting on discrimination and exclusion. (expatica)
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told parliament as the debate kicked off that introducing gay marriage was “an act of equality”. The government has allowed for the debate to run until February 10 with a vote due two days later.
With opinion polls having consistently shown that a comfortable majority of the French support gay marriage, Hollande could never have anticipated that a promise he made in his election manifesto last year would generate such controversy.
The Socialist Party has the votes to pass the legislation and it is also supported by Communists, Greens and some other centrists.