Damnit France, Why Can’t You Be More Like the Netherlands?

France! The land of manifestations! The land of progress! The land of changing language to better reflect people’s roles as humans instead of sexes. For this entire week, French citizens have taken to the streets over gay marriage and adoption, proudly carrying pink placards.

That sounds fantastic! That sounds wonderful! That sounds like President François Hollande’s promise to make same-sex marriage and adoption a reality for 2013 will hold true!

But wait, did you read the signs?

via Têtu

One Daddy, one Mommy, we shouldn’t tell lies to children.

I wish that I was completely mistranslating their message, but as it turns out, those rosy signs are being held by our adversaries, not our allies.

The VITA Alliance, France’s answer to NOM, is the group behind this week’s manifestations. Founded by Christine Boutin in 1993, the group claims to “promote the protection of human life and the dignity of every person.” They espouse the importance of equality and sexuality in a couple’s longevity, but only when it applies to strict gender roles in heternormative couples:

“To tell a child it has two daddies or two mommies is telling a lie. You should never lie to a child. Children have a right to know their origins, they have a right to a daddy and a mommy and not respecting that when they are already hurt through being orphans is just adding further mistreatment.” — Tugdual Derville, VITA Alliance’s general delegate.

In a series of 75 protests throughout the country, folks took to the streets to force their opinions down the throats of their fellow citizens. You see, children should be protected at all costs, even if it’s to the detriment of the family as a whole. Depending on which region you watched on Tuesday, men and women dressed in pink/green or black/white to represent the “need” for opposite-sex parents in a child’s life. And that guy inexplicably running around in the spandex body suit and cardboard wings, pretending to be the baby bird?

Not one of our team, but someone actually pushing the anti-gay marriage agenda! I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever seen silver spandex used for evil. (If you actually manage to watch the entire video, please let me know what their interpretive dance was trying to say.)

The newly-sworn-in Socialist party was set to push forward amendments for same-sex marriage and adoption earlier this month, but the caterwauling opposition has caused parliamentary action to slow. Instead of debating the issue on October 31st, the proceedings have been delayed until January 2013. This “reflection time” is supposed to allow for more deputy consultation and time for the heated arguments to cool off, but will this happen? The approval rating for same-sex marriage and adoption has declined and the only bellowing voices belong to bigots. Keeping in line with conservative parties around the globe, people are still shouting about the “dangers” and “consequences” of giving same-sex couples civil rights.

“[A]nd why not have unions with animals? Or polygamy?” — Brigitte Barèges, mayor of Montauban.

“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.” — Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon

The funny thing is, they’re kind of correct about the way same-sex families do differ: when more than two people are involved in creating a child, the dynamics have to change. No longer is the world limited to just mommy and daddy; there are step-parents, sperm donors and other adults who play a role in a child’s life. However, unlike the polygamist scenario they fear, these sprawling families can be a good thing.

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage over a decade ago and now they’re talking about extending benefits to all of the members in those families: “The justice ministry is going to investigate and see what the possibilities are for recognizing three parents or more per family,” said ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema to the AFP. The Dutch simply want to acknowledge all of the people that come together to bring a new life into the world. Green MP Liesbeth van Tongeren also supports the change:

Currently parenthood in the eyes of the law is almost always the consequence of biological parenthood. This does not represent the diversity of families in the Netherlands. Often enough, the father of a child with lesbian parents also plays a role in the life of the child. How a family lives is more important than the biological lineage. The bill should take into account what’s best for all concerned.

Time and time again we’ve learned that gay parents don’t make bad parents – bad parents make bad parents. Same-sex marriage hasn’t hurt the Netherlands, Canada or anywhere else. If there’s a bit of hope in this situation, the “reflection” period and postponement of the discussion until 2013 will allow everyone’s opinion to be heard. Some bigotry is expected, but same-sex supporters are also hopeful that they’ll get a chance to truly show how normal queer households are. This’ll give the children of these couples an opportunity to come out of the woodwork to defend their parents’ rights. I’m sure the VITA Alliance would support me when I ask, “Won’t anyone think of the children?”

In my experience as an elected official, I have seen so many children whose mother or father have abandoned them, who are unhappy, and sometimes even tortured. My priority in terms of adoption and marriage is happiness.” – Martine Filleul, PS vice-president of general council of the north.

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

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  1. “Damnit France, Why Can’t You Be More Like the Netherlands?” is the most accurate explanation of my feelings on this subject. Why, France, WHY must you make me feel so guilty about being a Francophone?!?

    • Well the silver surfer is clearly learning to walk and – as it is portrayed here – needs the help and support of both a father and mother to achieve this. From experience I can say that either of the sides could just as well substituted by “couch” or “bobby car”.

      Also, my 1-year-old gay rainbow baby laughed at this Phoebe-style and then cried towards the end. So I think they might be a danger to the upbringing of children on more than one level.

  2. Oh good lord THAT VIDEO!!! Funniest thing I have seen all day.

    In fairness it is only 1 AM.

    Now for an explanation.

    As I understand it, baby birds can only learn to fly if given support by green and pink crows. As they call out from opposite side of a canyon, their warm breath forms air currents. They have to learn to work together to give the baby bird an even amount of hot breath drafty things, so it can escape from the canyon, and become some sort of a c class runway model.

  3. François Hollande is the president not the Prime minister here… anyway I thought I would be able to marry my lady soon, not likely :-(. Those stupid homophobes make me so upset! I can’t even express the feeling… France is not the liberal country it used to be and if even the socialists start listening to all the religious extremist we’re in deep s…! Mais ou va le monde?

    • Evy, don’t worry, let them throw their hissy fit for two months if it makes them feel better. Let them make fools of themselves. Our victory in January will can only be stronger if they don’t feel like the political rug was pulled out from under them, so to speak. Hollande knows that, I believe, and he just decided to throw them a bone to placate them. It might not be a bad strategy in the end.

      It’s the religious organizations that are organized and marching, but to be be honest, I don’t think they’re the biggest problem in France. People tend to be fairly secular, but there are a lot of religious, or traditionally Catholic, people in power, especially on the right. Because the official discourse remains secular, this reality remains unspoken, tends to go unrecognized, and we citizens cannot mesure its influence easily.

      But a lot of homophobia comes from machismo, and sexism, and insistance on maintaining traditional gender norms, in part there is much more insistance on maintaining a certain degree of public conformity here than in some of our neighboring countries, or in the US. I mean the “beauf” for whom a gay man will only ever be a faggot, for whom a lesbian “has not found the right man and needs to be seduced”, preferably by the man in question. Ultimately, they’re the people whose minds we have to change, because they are a lot more people like that. They’re not as outspoken, they’re not getting media attention, but they’re the ones who are voting against us in greater numbers.

    • Oh yes, my bad! Thank you!

      Living in Montreal, I have plenty of friends that live a double life co-existing in Canada and France. We watched the videos as my gf translated the coverage and the entire thing just blew us away. It was really unsettling for her to realize she may have to abandon part of her future plans because she may never be able to truly live there.

      • It IS unsettling Kristen! That’s exactly the right word to describe how many of us are feeling. I think a lot of us, happily surrounded by gay and gay-positive friends, did not realize how virulent official, political, homophobia can still be here. Until the proposed bill came up, honestly, gay rights were just never discussed in the media to the extent they are in the US. There was no national conversation. I think a lot of people believe that we were being left alone, rather than silenced, and that therefore we were pretty much accepted.

        And all of a sudden everything has bubbled up, and all the unspoken hostility as risen to the surface. But I think all of this is good. We’re finally having this conversation, as a country, and I hope this moment will give us the opportunity to draw out the venom.

        • Being gay is OK in France as long as we don’t speak about it and we don’t make “them” feel uncomfortable. It’s high time this debate took place!
          And you are so right Madeline about “le beauf”; Sexism and machismo still prevail in France!

  4. “gay parents don’t make bad parents – bad parents make bad parents”
    I want to put this on sticky notes and stick them everywhere.

    The argument “what will happen to the children” is so flawed, because they have so many clear examples in other countries of children being raised by same-sex couples and turning out fine!

    Great article! The Netherlands gives me hope.

  5. It’s a shame..

    But speaking of the Netherlands, a few days ago I was watching a news opinionated tv-show on Dutch television that had me sitting on the couch with my mouth open. It wasn’t the tv-show but it was the guest they had who was talking about this topic. She was one of the most ignorant people I’ve seen on Dutch television in a long time. She, devoted catholic as she said herself, also stated that adoption should be for a man and a woman instead of same sex adoption. She said that she had several scientific sources to prove that it’s better for a kid to have a mom and a dad, and the kid will get damaged from having same sex parents. This lady disgusted me so much, especially because she made it seem that this also is the opinion that most catholic people have since she owns the national catholic magazine, but I’m pretty sure a lot of catholic people disagreed with her too. But it’s good that she had a platform to say what she thought. Mostly because the hosts and all the other guests, including a woman that has an adopted kid with another woman, all heavily disagreed with her. It’s good to know that the Netherlands seem to have commonly agreed on the topic of same rights for homosexuals and homosexual couples.
    So France.. I think you guys can do that too

  6. When I was a kid about 95% of my relationship with my mom and dad was them lying to me about stuff. France, 95% of being an adult is about lying to children. Just try it it’s so fun!

    • Good point. I wonder what these “on ne ment pas aux enfants” people have to say when their four-year-old asks them where babies come from.

  7. Wow, the implication that same-sex couples only adopt orphans is horrifyingly offensive. But the Dutch plan to include multiple parents is so incredible! I honestly don’t understand the whole fear towards a consensual polyamorous marriage, so having that be the next rung in the Ladder of Destroying Society has never made sense…

  8. I don’t think it’s an accurate comparison to compare queer marriage and polygamy is right, only because those are separate issues. However, the same rule can be applied: in countries that pride themselves on the ideal of liberty, restricting love is wrong in every form.
    The effect that nontraditional families have on children is often excellent because those families had to try much harder to come into being, and adapt their lives more to the presence of children.
    And on polygamy or polyamory, or even the nontraditional family structure: This article from Psychology Today talks about having many caretakers in a child’s life, and there are many more like this one. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-without-limits/201109/why-open-marriages-sometimes-work
    Raising children in a family is what’s right. We just need to continue redefining family.

  9. As a French-american queer raised in California who never wants to leave at the end of vacations over there and also wants to maybe live there, I really really wish that France could indeed be more like the Netherlands. I always assumed that California loved us more… but then prop h8 passed, and then F. Hollande said gay marriage would happen in France and for the first time I thought maybe France would be ahead of California after all. And now everything is up in the air and I’m excited/nervous to see how it all comes down.

    Also my sister was at my cousin’s wedding in France this summer and apparently the priest went off on a tangent praising them for having a proper traditional marriage with a man and woman and all that garbage. (During the freaking ceremony no less. Is that really necessary? really? really?) Sooooo coming out to my extended family will be… interesting. Thinking about this makes me realize that it’s important that I do at some point and should consider not waiting too long because these are important times and if I can change even one person’s mind it’s worth a little rejection/awkwardness. So, thank you for this article!

  10. I really despise those arguments that imply that the next level is marriage with animals is the next logical step. It’s obviously not.
    However, it really trips me up when they talk about undoing the taboos between other human relationships. I don’t consider polygamy taboo and it’s older than dirt. But as for incest, I actually do think that’s disgusting. (I blame it on my older-male-family member issues of the past, which is probably more pedo issues to sort through than anything.) So I wonder, is that churning feeling I get about pedophiles how these people feel about gays? If so, then there is nothing I could say to them, ever, that would change their mind, and I’d finally know how they feel. They want to throw up when they see me. There’s nothing I can do about that.

  11. As a French woman, reading this article made me so mad. I voted for Holland because he talked about Gay rights. Something that Sarkozy never mentioned at all. I want to be able to gat married and adopt a child if I want to in my birth country.
    Watching that video with the winged man, I realized that they did not even use actual facts or any of the sort, this performance is just a selfish old school presentation about people that are completely close minded.
    I just hope they’ll get over themselves.

  12. This is awkward, I am ashamed of my country, I would like to laugh but these people are actually being listened to… Next time someone ask me why I don’t come back and live in France, I’ll just show them this video.

  13. That Pic! This totally made my day. :D
    Btw, the two girls are straight. They just did it to protest, and to piss the bigots off. Which probably worked ^^
    Makes me believe that there’s hope for you, France!

  14. I love how with all the “progressive” pantomime, the females in the pic are in pink aand the males are in green.Awww!
    French conservatives are just as manipulative and pathetic as american ones..surprise surprise.

  15. As an all-around francophile, this makes me so sad. The France I know and love is much better than this. Here’s hoping that the only effect of this movement is to motivate the tolerant french to be even more active and keep pushing for love over hate.

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