Marriage for all? France is Next
France is about to become the ultimate resort for same-sex honeymooners and aspiring foster parents. This is because an upcoming Act, which is currently a Bill pending in the lower house of the French parliament, if passed, will allow French same sex couples to say “I Do” legally and get rights to adopt children. The socialist ruling party headed by President Francois Hollander is said to be pushing the measure through the National Assembly. This will put France on a similar page with it’s European neighbors who grant marriage and adoption rights to homosexuals.
The Bill, which has now been approved by a 329-to-229 vote yesterday, has withstood the pressure coming from an array of strong opponents of the “marriage for all” bill. Polls show that while the French public does support same-sex marriage, many people are rather ‘iffy’ about allowing child custody and adoption for the same. The next stop for this Bill is the Senate, where it has a strong chance of approval by the Socialists and their political allies.
From a legal perspective the issue of same sex marriages brings to the fore many issues like parental responsibility of children and monetary issues pertaining to property, pensions and inheritance tax, gender reassignment and IVF treatment rights. In many liberal democracies while same sex couples have cohabitation rights, they still face social exclusion, in that they are unable to get married. France, like the UK, has been one of the liberal jurisdictions where there has been a persistent political campaign for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in the past many decades mainly due to the (at times tragic) legal pitfalls of cohabiting outside marriage.
In the UK, there is now a concept of “civil partnerships” under the recently promulgated Civil Partnership Act 2004, which grants same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to a civil marriage. The current law in the UK and many other countries allows gay couples to legally adopt their partner’s child.
In France, same-sex civil unions, have been allowed since 1999, but the law is currently silent on Adoption or assisted reproduction for such couples wishing to start a family. From the experience of Britain, same-sex marriage and child adoption law can take away many of the anomalies and tragic consequences being faced by widowed partners and orphaned adopted children in such unions, due to the reluctance of the courts to recognize the same at least informally to help support the surviving families.