NZ Herald 6 Nov 2012
A plan to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt was a liberal cornerstone of Francois Hollande’s election manifesto earlier this year. It looked like a shoo-in for the French President, supported by a majority of the country, and an easy way to break with his conservative predecessor. But that was then. Now, as the Socialist government prepares to unveil its draft “marriage for everyone” law Wednesday, polls show wavering support for the idea and for the president himself amid increasingly vocal opposition in this majority Catholic country. And it’s not just religious and rural leaders speaking out; top figures within Hollande’s own party also are at loggerheads over the plan. The Socialists are now dragging their feet, releasing the bill later than planned and delaying parliamentary debate on it until January. The political hot potato has exposed divisions between urban France, where homosexuality is widely accepted, and the rural heartland, where conservative attitudes hold sway.
….Attracting equal controversy, Christian Democrat Party leader Christine Boutin – who brandished a bible in France’s National Assembly in 1998 to protest gay civil unions – has said the law could open the floodgates to moral decline. “(Back in 1998) I said that civil unions would lead to gay marriage. Everyone said: ‘Never. Not at all!’ (But) it’s just the natural direction. The logic of the situation is, that if we’ve got marriage (for all), we’ll move towards polygamy. Why is it so shocking to predict this?” France has allowed civil unions since 1999, and while they were initially seen as for gay or lesbian couples, they have proved hugely popular among heterosexuals, too. France would become the 12th country in the world – and the biggest so far in terms of economic and diplomatic influence, – to legalize same-sex marriage if the bill passes.