Friday, January 28, 2011

French Court Rules Against Lesbian Couple in Fight for Marriage Equality

The Motto of the French Republic Liberty, Equa...Liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la morte. (Liberty, equality, brotherhood or death) These words are the official motto of France and date back to the French Revolution. You see them engraved on public and government buildings all over Paris and throughout the nation that Americans think of as the epitome of class, sophistication and forward thinking. Not so fast.

While many Americans assume that same-sex marriage is already legal in fancy-schmancy France, it isn't. French gay and lesbian couples can have a civil union, or pacte civil de solidarité and that will have to suffice for a while. A lesbian couple lost their battle for marriage equality today when the French Constitutional Court ruled against them in the bid for the right to marry.

The UK's Pink News reports:
France’s constitutional court upheld the ban on gay marriage today after a challenge from a lesbian couple.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have lived together for 15 years and have four children, asked for the right to marry but were turned down by the Constitutional Council.

Ms Cestino and Ms Hasslauer have a PACS (pacte civil de solidarité) but argued that they should be able to marry.

“It is not so much about getting married but about having the right to get married,” Ms Cestino, a paediatrician, told Associated Press.

“So, that is what we are asking for: just to be able, like anyone else, to choose to get married or not.”

The couple also told the AFP news agency that marriage was the only way to ensure the protection of the children, should one of them die.

But the court ruled that the ban did not breach the French constitution and said it was up to parliament whether to change the law.

France has had PACS since 1999. The civil unions are available to straight and gay couples but do not give all the rights of marriage.

A survey published today by TNS Sofres showed that 51 per cent of respondents were in favour of gay marriage and 35 per cent were against.

In 2006, the same agency found that only 45 per cent of respondents agreed with giving gay couples the right to marry.

Seven European states – Norway, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden and Iceland – allow gay couples to marry.

Others, such as the UK and Germany, allow civil partnerships or unions.

A fight is currently underway in the UK to give gay and straight couples the right to choose either marriage or civil partnerships.

The Equal Love campaign, led by Peter Tatchell, plans to go to court this year.

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  1. I dont understand the difference between a civil union and marriage. I think the GLBT community should be happy with civil union, or at least, use that terminology. I think if the U.S. states are ever going to allow marriage, civil unions, i think, are the best place to start.

  2. That's the same argument that was used to justify segregation. There are over 1,100 rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. Civil Unions and domestic partnerships convey some, but not all of those rights. Why reinvent something that already exists?

    Separate but equal is never equal. Elton John took the same position you have until his application to adopt two Ukranian orphans was denied last year because he was not married.

    For straight couples, a marriage performed anywhere on the planet is legally recognized everywhere. Same-sex marriage and even civil unions and domestic partnerships are only recognized in a few select places. It is definitely not the same.

    The Rev.


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