Tens of thousands marched down Avenue Denfert Rochereau in Paris’ 14th district last weekend, raising their voices in support of French President François Hollande’s plan to legalize gay marriage and adoption by gay couples.
This demonstration was held in contrast to a protest on Jan. 13, where religious figures and ardent opposers expressed their disapproval of the bill.
Jean Garnier, 84, a resident of suburban Paris, said many French citizens have elected government officials based on their support of marriage and adoption equality, and the government is therefore helping homosexuals achieve the proposed bill.
“More people are supportive. It’s only a minority who does not support it,” Garnier said. “I know that in the United States, Maryland and New York have adopted the marriage for the gay people. I would like France to follow that, too.”
Paris resident Gaelle Rungi, 25, is currently in a relationship with a woman, but some obstacles interfere with her wish to marry her.
“The government is under good way, but it’s difficult because there are a lot of people in France who [do not] want the marriage because they are Catholic and because of our culture,” Rungi said. “It’s difficult to change the spirit of the people.”
There is a misunderstanding between supporters of gay marriage and those holding certain religious views. Alan Clason, pastor of Trinity International Church of Paris, said gay marriage in itself is not a sin.
“According to the teaching of Scripture, it is acting out a gay lifestyle that is sin,” Clason said. “It is not a sin to feel gay any more than it is a sin to be tempted heterosexually. The sin is in giving into those sexual desires outside the bonds of marriage.”
While Clason said he is certainly not against equal rights or protection under the law for homosexual couples, he is opposed to the changing of the historical definition of marriage — a man and a woman united to live together and establish a family.
But Paris resident Philippe Gueneux, 19, said it is time to change the minds of the French people.
“Today, the most important [thing] in France is the people, not the mind of the church,” Gueneux said. “The church doesn’t change, never. But the people try to change the things with the protest and manifestation.”
Another major issue brought about by the protests is adoption by gay couples.
The National Council of French Evangelicals stated in a press release that it is in the superior interest of the child to be raised by a father and a mother.
Clason views adoption as one of the primary problems with the new law, as it will deprive a child of having a traditional mother and father.
“No one knows how widespread adoption by gay couples will affect the children,” Clason said. “While it is true that there are many single-parent families today, do we really want to make a law [that] deprives a child of the influence of both a mother and a father?”
But Gueneux disagrees.
“Homosexual people prove a lot of times that they can raise children as good as a heterosexual couple,” Gueneux said. “Children can be as happy with a homosexual couple as [with] a heterosexual couple.”
A debate will be held starting on Tuesday in the French Parliament on the marriage and adoption equality bill and is scheduled to last two weeks.
Kayana Jean-Philippe is a foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.