Tagged: France

French Mayor Refuses to Obey Marriage Equality Law, Faces Jail

coloJean-Michel Colo, mayor of the southwestern French city of Arcangues, is making headlines by openly defying the country’s new marriage equality law and refusing to marry same-sex couples, in violation of his civic responsibilities.

In an interview with France Television, Colo said:

When people close the door at home, they do what they want. For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children. I am not discriminating as a same-sex couple is sterile. It’s a parody of equality, it’s a big lie.

While Colo is of course free to believe whatever he wishes in the privacy of his own heart, he is not free to pick and choose what laws he wishes to obey in his official capacity as Mayor of Arcangues. And to the French government’s credit, they aren’t backing down from enforcing the new marriage equality law: Interior Minister Manuel Valls told the media that Colo faced “significant sanctions” if he refused to comply, saying that the mayor would be guilty of discrimination, which is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($59,769).

The Committee to Defend Gay Rights says it will formally report Colo for discrimination if he does not back down from his exclusionary threats.

Video of the Day: Pakman Discusses French Anti-Equality Protest Suicide

dominique_vennerIn case you missed it, the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was evacuated on Tuesday after Dominique Venner, a 78-year-old far-right Catholic activist, shot himself in the mouth in front of the altar as a protest against France’s new marriage equality law. Hundreds of tourists in the packed cathedral witnessed the grisly event.

Hours before he took his life, Venner published a homophobic, Islamophobic post on his blog denouncing the new law as “detestable” and condemning Islamic immigration from north Africa. (Venner did see a silver lining to an Islamist takeover of France, however: a hypothetical Islamist government would repeal marriage equality.) He also made reference to a planned May 26 protest against the law, writing:

It is not nice enough to organize street protests to prevent [marriage equality]… It certainly will require new, spectacular, and symbolic actions to wake up the sleep walkers, shake the anaesthetized consciousness, and awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time when words must be authenticated by acts.

And Venner made what seemed to be an ominous allusion to the symbolic action he planned to take later that day:

It is here and now that our destiny is played until the final second. And this final second has as much importance as the rest of a life. That is why we need to be ourselves until the very last instant.

I spoke with progressive talk-show phenom David Pakman yesterday about Venner’s suicide. (Side note: if you’re not yet familiar with Pakman’s nationally syndicated political talk radio and TV program, The David Pakman Show, you’ll want to be.) In the interview, Pakman wonders whether self-loathing homophobia may have fueled Venner’s extreme anti-gay hatred.

Watch: Continue reading

BREAKING: Far-Right Catholic Activist Commits Suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral Over Same-Sex Marriage

notre_dame_cathedralAccording to multiple sources, the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was evacuated today after a far-right Catholic activist went to the altar and shot himself in the mouth. The suicide, which was witnessed by hundreds of tourists, appears to have been a protest against same-sex marriage.

The UK’s Daily Mail reports:

The Cathedral was full of visitors when the horrific incident took place, at around 4pm.

‘There was screaming and lot so shouting following a loud bang,’ said one witness. ‘People were naturally very scared and began to run out in panic.

‘Police and other emergency workers including firemen got here very quickly, and then the whole cathedral was evacuated.’

Dominique Venner, age 78, was a well-known essayist and a former member of a paramilitary group known as the Secret Army Organization (OAS), which waged a bombing and assassination campaign in the early 1960s to protest France giving Algeria its independence.

dominique_vennerMr. Venner was also close to the anti-marriage equality movement and an outspoken critic of France’s new marriage equality law, which President François Hollande signed on Saturday. He made no verbal statement before he shot himself, but a letter was found on his person. The contents of Mr. Venner’s letter have not yet been released.

However, just before killing himself, Venner published a disturbing post on his blog today in which he gave a scathing critique of marriage equality and may have alluded to his suicidal intentions:

[Preventing marriage equality] certainly will require new, spectacular, and symbolic actions to wake up the sleep walkers, shake the anaesthetized consciousness, and awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time when words must be authenticated by acts…

It is here and now that our destiny is played until the final second. And this final second has as much importance as the rest of a life. That is why we need to be ourselves until the very last instant.

It seems that Mr. Venner chose to end his life so that he wouldn’t have to live to see the day when loving and committed same-sex couples in France are able to marry. What a tragedy, that others’ happiness would make this man want to die.

How profoundly sad. Mr. Venner’s family has my sympathies.

BREAKING: French Constitutional Court Upholds Marriage Equality

Agence France-Presse has just reported on Twitter that France‘s constitutional court has upheld the legality of the nation’s new marriage equality law:

afp_marriage

President François Hollande, who campaigned on a promise to bring mariage pour tous (marriage for all) to France, pledged yesterday to sign the bill into law as soon as the constitutional court released its decision:

hollande_marriage

So marriage equality is, for all intents and purposes, a done deal in France.

UPDATE: BFM TV is reporting that Hollande will sign the bill into law tomorrow (Saturday).

Libertéégalité, fraternité. Vive la France!

h/t: Joe

Marriage Equality: What a Week!

In the week that I’ve been apartment-hunting with Michael and Rosie in DC, marriage equality has moved forward at a lightning pace. Just in case you haven’t been able to keep up with the daily barrage of freedom-to-marry news, here’s a brief recap.

  1. France gave final approval to marriage equality on Tuesday, April 24. Opponents are challenging the legality of the law before France’s Constitutional Court, but the New York Times reports that that challenge is expected to fail. Pro-equality President François Hollande will sign the measure and same-sex weddings will begin this summer. France is the 14th country in the world to approve nationwide marriage equality (not the 17th, as some reports have erroneously stated). Continue reading

As France Prepares for Marriage Equality, Opponents Warn of Civil War

For the past several months, equal marriage supporters around the world have watched with excitement as a marriage and adoption equality bill winds its way through France’s parliament. The French people strongly endorse same-sex marriage, and support for the right of married gay and lesbian couples to jointly adopt children sits just shy of 50 percent.

french_senateFrance’s Senate voted Friday to approve the landmark bill, but because it made minor changes to the adoption portion, the National Assembly must vote to approve the measure one more time before President François Hollande can sign it into law, which he has promised to do. Also on Friday, Hollande’s Socialist Party announced that the final vote — originally scheduled for May 20 — would instead be held the following Wednesday, April 17, keeping marriage and adoption equality on track to become law in France by summer.

But the push for equality has an ugly underbelly: hundreds of thousands of anti-equality protesters have marched violently through the streets of Paris, the nation’s Catholic bishops have denounced the proposed law, and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a U.S.-based anti-gay organization, has taken a leading role in organizing the opposition, which consists mostly of Roman Catholics and conservatives. And as the marriage equality bill moves closer to passage, brutal and bloody attacks on LGBT people have surged: the head of a French anti-homophobia organization told Raw Story this week that reports of anti-gay assaults in the first two months of 2013 were up by 200 percent.

frigide_barjotWhen Hollande’s government announced the fast-tracked final vote on Friday, several proponents of marriage discrimination responded with disturbing and violent threats. Frigide Barjot (center in photo at left), leader of “mainstream” anti-equality group Manif pour tous, vowed:

Hollande wants blood, and he will get it.

The threat marks a stark reversal from statements Barjot made just two days prior, when she claimed in the wake of a particularly savage anti-gay hate crime that her side “[denounces] violence.”

Christian Jacob, a deputy from the right-wing UMP party, echoed Barjot’s inflammatory words, warning that by speeding up the bill’s near-certain passage, Hollande “is risking a violent confrontation with the French people.” Fellow UMP parliamentarian Hervé Mariton added that the move was “an incitement to civil war.”

France’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community will find out in a matter of days whether these homophobes intend to make good on their chilling promises.

I wonder, do the French Catholic bishops and NOM — responsible for stirring up much of this anti-gay fervor — endorse their allies’ vulgar threats and violent attacks? If not, the clock is running out for both groups to issue a forceful and unequivocal condemnation.

In the meantime, their silence speaks volumes.

French Senate Green-Lights Marriage, Adoption Equality Bill

rainbow_flagToday, after voting separately to approve marriage equality and adoption equality for same-sex couples, the French Senate approved the entire bill, meaning that it remains on track to become law by summer.

USA Today reports that the Senate made minor changes to the bill — presumably to the adoption article, since none were made to the marriage article — so both that body and the National Assembly will each have to vote on the amended bill one final time. Since each house has already approved the bill once before, these final votes aren’t likely to be anything more than formalities.

What great news for the LGBT community in France!