France is marching forward with its president’s manifesto, equalizing hetero- and homosexual marriages and hetero- and homosexual adoption rights; but what’s really burning critics is the State’s manipulation of language. Their purposes were transparent enough when the new draft law defined its terms that “marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender,” but they felt something Orwellian in the state’s new policy to drop all references to “mothers and fathers” in the civil code, replacing them with the word “parents.”
The legitimizing of homosexual marriage has 65 percent rate of support in France. Its strongest and most organized critics are from the Catholic Church. No less imposing figure than the Pope himself weighted in, bringing 30 French bishops to Italy to rally them to fight the new law. “We have there a true challenge to take on. The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective.”
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who heads the French Catholic Church, evoked the slippery slope argument in condemning the redefinition of marriage, warning that gay marriage could lead to legalized incest and polygamy in society — and it’s hard to see how the new definition of marriage could freeze out such possibilities — “This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall.”
What this ultimately means, he says, is that “Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown of society.”
But assuming that society did go in that direction, though marriage would be understood differently, leading even heterosexuals to experience their marriage with a new sense, how this would cause a “complete breakdown of society” would require some explanation. After all, Huxley’s “Brave New World” imagines a society without parents at all, and though the novel is dystopic, it does not depict a society that is broken down. If things are different then they will be different — but is that a reason to catastrophize?
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has challenged the Catholic doom-sayers, telling France’s Catholic newspaper La Croix: “Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child’s development?” The rhetorical question could perhaps be answered by a study of some sort. Certainly homosexual sexual love is sterile, but that doesn’t mean their love for the adopted child or the artificially impregnated child would differ in kind from more traditional parents. “What is certain,” she continues, “is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.”
The French Catholics have also published a “Prayer for France,” which says that “Children should not be subjected to adults’ desires and conflicts, so they can fully benefit from the love of their mother and father.”
The drafted law with the doctored name of “parents” replacing references to “mother and father” will be presented to President Francois Hollande’s cabinet for approval on October 31.