France’s anti-gay marriage ban upheld

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2011

Of all the schemes in Europe by which various nations recognize same-sex couples, France’s (PACS) is among the weakest. Sophie Hasslauer and Corinne Cestino sued for marriage rights and the supreme court ruled that gay couples are not entitled to equality under France’s constitution. (NY Times)

The constitutional council upheld longstanding legislation on Friday that effectively bans marriage for same-sex couples. The council ruled that civil code references to marriage as a union between a man and woman were not contrary to the Constitution, and said the legislature could change the law if it saw fit. “The principle of equality prohibits neither that the legislature regulate differing situations in differing manners, nor that it depart from equality for reasons of general interest,” the decision said.

Perhaps that makes sense in French.

Priya Lynn

January 29th, 2011

As I’ve always thought with judges, if they’d really like things to be a certain way they’ll have no problem ignoring logic and rational legal principles to rule however they want. At one time judges ruled against interracial marriage, later on they ruled for it. Logic and the overriding legal principles didn’t change, only the outcome they preferred did.

The law is complicated enough that in many cases one can come up with some sort legal argument to support the desired outcome however weak that argument may be.

Timothy (TRiG)

January 29th, 2011

A bit sad for what I think it the only country in the world to explicitly triumph equality in its national slogan.

Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité! Maybe one day.



January 29th, 2011

If the SC in FRANCE is that closed-minded, what can you expect from the one in the US?

So what now? How are the chances of the legislature changing the law?

Mark F.

January 29th, 2011

France was one of the few countries where homosexuality was legal a century ago, so don’t be too hard on them.


January 29th, 2011

I’m fascinated by how Kincaid and other commentors here are suddenly experts in the French Constition and French law. This is more arrogant than the French themselves.

If the French people want to resolve this they will do so and do so in a way consistent with their laws and culture. Stay out of it.

Patrick Garies

January 29th, 2011

@tim: Can you clarify what the misinterpretations are?

No government is beyond critique and France is no exception. If there’s misinformation being spread, the first thing you should be doing is correcting the record; inexplicably telling everyone that they are forbidden to comment is hardly constructive.


January 30th, 2011

i second both tim’s and patrick garies’ posts.

i will add that, as much as i love france, it has sadly not been at the forefront of human rights when it comes to us queer folks, at least not since 1995, when they passed the pacs.

and although french people are overall very much for equal marriage rights, they are still reluctant to grant adoption rights to gay couples. i therefore partly fault the lgbt associations in france for this massive fail!

finally, due process and equal protection in the us and in france are not the same; if u read the decision, and try to draw parallels to what happens in the us, it sounds as if the constitutional council decided (by what vote margin?) that some rational basis test was applicable; and that there may be indeed reasons to limit marriage to 2 pple of opposite sex, pretty much like the ny state’s highest court had ruled (although the french court did not even give an example of what those reasons may be).
i am not sure this would happen in the united states. at least i hope it won’t.

Rob Lll

January 30th, 2011

Disappointed. But not surprised.

I lived in France for a number of years, go back as often as I can, and while I love the country (as much as my own), I’ve long felt that the French reputation for social progressiveness is overstated. Tolerant in many respects, but “tolerance” is not the same as the willingness to grant civic equality. There’s a deeply conservative, even reactionary streak in the culture, especially vis-a-vis anything having to do with family issues — daftpunkydavid is absolutely correct to highlight the issue of adoption rights.

And, of course, there is also flat-out homophobia, Anyone here who reads French might want to check out the message boards at Le Monde, which have been overrun with bigot eruptions, most of which seem to be coming from arch-conservative Catholics. The arguments are, unsurprisingly, identical to what we see here in the States (end of civilization, polygamy and bestiality, what about the children, etc.).

The good news is that the polls I’ve seen show a majority of French people now in favor of marriage equality (with even stronger support among the young), and this may well be an issue in the next presidential election.

So Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité isn’t a reality for everyone, not yet. But they’ll get there. As will we.

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