- January 30, 2013
The following post comes from HRC Religion & Faith Program Assistant Michael Toumayan:
Égalité, French for “equality”, was among the three founding principles of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity – a slogan that has inspired thousands of people to march in Paris on Tuesday shouting “égalité!” in its truest and absolutist definition where France will no longer discriminate members of the LGBT community in humanity’s most sacred ritual – marriage.
On Tuesday, the French parliament began considering a reform bill that would legalize gay marriage, fulfilling an election promise made by President François Hollande during his campaign against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy that he won in May. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told the national assembly that the bill constitutes an "act of equality. ... Finally, marriage will be a universal institution."
Similar to the United States, France is catching up to a number of European nations in granting same-sex marriage rights. Congregating in the Place de la Bastille – a square which commemorates the Revolution of 1830 on the site of the once Bastille prison – demonstrators listened to speeches on legalizing gay marriage reflecting a more intimate conversations among people in the crowd. The echoes of call to change reminisce of those who congregated in front of the Bastille Prison prior to storming the medieval fortress over two centuries ago.
In both the French and American cases for marriage equality, there is a great sense of evoking the past to invoke a vision of a more equal future for all. This coming on the heels of Obama’s historic inaugural speech when he equated gay rights with women's suffrage and the black civil rights movement by mentioning Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall all in the same sentence.
A survey published Saturday by the Nouvel Observateur news magazine said 56 percent of the French were in favor and just 39 percent opposed.