French opposition socialists rally behind gay marriage

May 12, 2004

Head of the French Socialist party Francois Hollande speaks May 2004 in Paris
Photo - AFP
PARIS — France's opposition Socialists, spurred on by their allies in the Greens party – one of whom plans to celebrate France's first gay marriage next month – on Tuesday urged the French to back homosexual marriage.

Socialist party leader Francois Hollande told AFP he would ask his party to file a draft law that would put civil marriage on France's statute books, no matter what the gender of the two people asking to be married.

"Every society should be organized on the principle of equal rights and respect. As a result, marriage should be open to everybody," Hollande said.

Hollande's comments came as Greens parliamentary deputy and former presidential candidate Noel Mamere planned to celebrate France's first same-sex marriage between two men on June 5.

Mamere, the mayor of Begles in the suburbs of the southwestern city of Bordeaux, has said that nothing in French law specifies that marriages must be between a man and a woman, and has threatened to take any challenge to the European Court of Human Rights.

French Justice Minister Dominique Perben has countered by saying that any gay marriage would be null and void, and has called on judicial authorities to block the ceremony.

Former finance minister and party heavyweight Dominique Strauss-Kahn backed Hollande in an interview with the left-leaning Liberation, adding that he supported the adoption of children by gay or lesbian couples.

"What has marriage become? A solemn declaration of love between two beings who love each other, and a contract to protect the interests and inheritance of the partners. As far as I'm concerned, I don't see any reason to deny this to two people of the same sex," Strauss-Kahn said.

"Sexual orientation does not determine one's ability to raise a child," he noted, adding: "What counts is the happiness of the child and his future, whether with a heterosexual or a homosexual couple."

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, one of France's few openly gay politicians, said he was "obviously for adoption by homosexual parents". On the issue of gay marriage, he reiterated that he supported "equal rights", provided there was a "legal component".

Although the Netherlands and Belgium are the only European countries to allow same-sex civil marriages, France and several other states allow civil unions for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

France's Civil Solidarity Pact (known as PACS) was introduced in 1999 and gives all adult couples, including homosexual ones, many of the same fiscal and social rights as married partners. – Sapa-AFP

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French justice minister declares planned gay marriage void [06/05/204]



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