It’s interesting the way marriage equality is playing out in parts of Western Europe. In several countries, marriage-like rights/arrangements were granted to same-sex couples long before they came to the United States, but these arrangements were often open to opposite-sex couples as well. Whereas in the United States, the push is actually toward preserving the institution of marriage by opening it to all committed couples, it seems that in Western Europe, couples, straight and gay, are opting for the more “no-frills” option of civil unions, which is leading to an overall decline in marriage rates.
Here’s what’s up in France right now:
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.”
Here’s the thing, though:
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.”
The article goes on to note that the pacts are expected to outnumber marriages before too long in France, which will make it the “first post-marriage Western nation.”
It would seem that, given the inevitable tide of history, our ideological opponents who weep and wail about how they’re “pro-marriage” and not anti-gay should be our biggest champions, if marriage is actually what they give a damn about.
[It is not. They’re simply motivated by animus against gay people. Oh well.]