Gay Marriage Debate Reveals Trends in French Society

If everything goes correctly, the bill legalizing marriage and adoption for homosexual couples will be voted Tuesday in the National Assembly, on the same terms as the one that was voted in the Senate a couple of weeks ago. The vote that will happen this Tuesday will close a long and tense debate which has mobilized the public opinion for months.

The major revelation for these long months was the constitution of a strong opposition to the Government. The French right has re-discovered its capacity to surprise the parliamentary majority.

The successive demonstrations were also the place to watch the new alliances that have emerged on the right. While the continuity of the alliances is still to be determined, we saw the traditional right walk along with the nationalist right, and the Christian right unite from its liberal members to its most conservative fringes.

When the parliamentary debate took place, we also saw a coalition of interest between the UMP and the few deputies from the extreme-right. In the Parliament, the debate helped to forge a new movement within the former majority party.  Clearly, they deemed that this law will go into effect, and they did not want to see their image associated with this battle, lost before it even began.

She was seen as a weak member of the government until her extraordinary speech during the parliamentary debate. A surprising event also happened during this debate. Demonstrations took place in favor of the reform. This is intriguing as demonstrations usually take place to fight a reform. But in this case, supporters of the bill went down to the streets several times to support the Government action and prevent them from stepping down on the reform.

However, the bill did not push the Front de Gauche (FG) and the Parti Socialiste (PS) closer together. While a consensus has emerged at the time of the vote, the former wanted to include further progress in the bill, such as the medically-assisted procreation or the surrogate pregnancy. Overall, the division between both parties has persisted and will increase when the Parliament turns back to economic matters.

Now, the bill will become law, but the cost has been surprisingly high. The country has been divided by a law that many saw as secondary to the economic reforms. The opposition has played the card of the radicalization and will encounter difficulties to get out of this strategy. The majority has not benefitted from this popular reform as they expected they would. But what this debate revealed is the difficulties that France faces when implementing progressive reforms. This is maybe a proof that this country might be, despite its reputation, rather conservative.

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