French High Court to Rule on Gay Unions

by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jan 19, 2011

The Constitutional Council, France's highest court, has agreed to rule on a case of two women who have conceived children by artificial insemination. The women want to call their relationship a marriage and have it recognized as such.

The French have resisted formal legal recognition of same-sex relationships more than other Western European democracies, despite its historic liberalism and anti-clericalism. The women's lawyer, Emmanuel Ludot, told the newspaper Le Figaro, he is arguing, "It's not a matter of asking the Constitutional Council if it will make a pronouncement for or against homosexual marriage. It's necessary to be more subtle."

Ludot will ask, according to Catholic website Lifesite News, whether "the judge, guarantor of individual liberties and notably the liberty to contract, has the power to authorize or not the marriage of two responsible adults."

He will also imply that France is violating the International Convention on the Rights of Man that assures everyone of the right to marry and establish a family. France does have "civil solidarity packs" that allow any couples the legal benefits of marriage.

Civil solidarity pacts, a form of registered domestic partnership, were enacted in 1999 for both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples. Couples who enter into a PACS contract are afforded most of the legal protections and responsibilities of marriage.

As the institution of marriage declines, more and more heterosexual couples are availing themselves of these pacts. In December, the New York Times reported that "French couples are increasingly shunning traditional marriages and opting instead for civil unions, to the point that there are now two civil unions for every three marriages."

Although, the article noted, it "remains unclear whether the idea of a civil union, called a pacte civil de solidarité, or PACS, has responded to a shift in social attitudes or caused one, it has proved remarkably well suited to France and its particularities about marriage, divorce, religion and taxes -- and it can be dissolved with just a registered letter."

The pacts are widely expected to outnumber marriages in the not-too-distant future, making France the first post-marriage Western nation.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


  • fernsky, 2011-01-27 21:21:52

    I think, I may be mistaken but the reason for civil partnership has or had nothing to do with homosexuals, having suffered a divorce myself I have come to realized how expensive a divorce may be. The government realized that less and less people wanted to get married one of the ways for the government to keep track of its people is through marriage, a couple, kids, one address. So the civil contract being cheaper in case of a split hence by making this civil contract it helped the government keep track. France as you may not know is a very conservative country, to a certain extant they could compare to Texas, Roman Catholics are still a power one has to reckon with but France will give in, first the Dutch then the Belgians (of which I’m one) the Spanish (after Franco). France and Germany will give in to SSM. Another "de facto" thing I learned is of a Muslim married to a woman with whom he is having children but he has two civil unions with women from whom he’s having children as well... According to the bible homosexuality is a sin and there’s nothing wrong with polygamy according to the bible of course...

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