PARIS — Supporters of traditional marriage expect hundreds of thousands of marchers to turn out for an upcoming national rally in opposition to President Francois Hollande’s “Marriage for all” proposal.
Set to go before France’s parliament Jan. 29, the draft law proposes to redefine marriage as a union “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex.”
The law would also allow “married” same-sex couples to adopt children while also replacing gender definitive titles such as “Mother” or “Father” with “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”
Some opponents of the proposal say doing so would strip society of sexual differences and would create a framework for a “new anthropological order” based on sexual preference rather than unique “sexual otherness.” Opponents also say the move would deny children the biological right of having a mother and father and that the proposal should have been presented as a referendum to the people.
La Manif Pour Tous (“March for All”), a demonstration organized by French satirist Frigide Barjot — whose real name is Virginie Télenne — drew tens of thousands of supporters in the regional demonstrations held throughout France in November and December.
A modest estimate for the first national rally to be held Jan. 13 is projected to draw some 350,000 supporters, one of the organizers, Lionel Lumbroso, told Catholic News Agency Jan. 4.
“The bigger we are, the more difficult it will be for the government to ignore us,” he said.
Although the “vast majority of the base is Catholic” and founder Frigide Barjot is a Catholic re-convert, Lumbroso said that the movement represents a much greater diversity of the French people because people of different faiths and political beliefs are coming together for a common goal.
“That’s an aspect that’s striking to our movement,” said Lumbroso, who pointed out that he is an agnostic of Jewish descent. “We have had the distinct feeling of working toward national re-cohesion.”
For this reason, all those involved must carry banners only bearing “La Manif Pour Tous” slogans or logos and are encouraged to wear blue, white or pink — a spin on France’s colors of blue, white and red.
“What we’re seeing is we’re uniting through republican values,” he said.
The group plans to march along three different routes until they converge on the Champs de Mars to meet under the Eiffel Tower.
Controversy grew as President Hollande voiced support for Education Minister Vincent Peillon’s letter that warned Catholic schools not to discuss same-sex “marriage,” reminding them that they are “under contract with the state” and “must respect the principle that everyone has a right to free thought,” The Connexion reported Jan. 7.
Peillon’s letter comes after Eric Labarre, the secretary general of the French Catholic school system, wrote a letter to Catholic school leaders suggesting they organize discussions about same-sex “marriage.”
Speaking Nov. 17 to a group of French bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome, Pope Benedict XVI urged politicians and the French bishops to be wary of any legislation that “threatens marriage between a man and a woman.”
Demonstration organizer Barjot has called on the debate to be open “everywhere and in all schools,” the AFP reported.
Although the group has rallied in favor of traditional marriage, they are adamant in opposing homophobia — a charge that many in favor of the president’s proposal have brought against them.
Lumbroso said the movement is not about opposing homosexual individuals, but, rather, about preserving “institutions that bring structure to our society.”