Tuesday, April 23, the French Parliament voted to approve marriage equality nation-wide. This vote officially makes France the 14th nation worldwide to legalize gay marriage. France is the third nation to approve marriage equality this year.
The vote in France was a little more divisive than in Uruguay or New Zealand—the two nations preceding France on marriage equality in 2013. French protesters were particularly vehement, engaging in a week of violence against the LGBT community leading up to the vote. After the vote, about fifty protestors were arrested for violence against the police, who were dispatched to control the situation.
Groups against gay marriage still remain strong in much of the world. Even among Western nations there is organized, well-financed opposition to marriage equality. TFP Student Action, a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, for example, claims chapters across 25 nations. Originally started in 1960, this Catholic-based organization “defends traditional moral values on college campuses” according to its website.
TFP makes a case against gay marriage through ten specific arguments. Some of these arguments are not supported by much more than their own interpretation of the Bible and Christianity, such as the assertion that gay marriage “offends God,” or that it “turns a moral wrong into a civil right.” Among some religious communities, these are common arguments. TFP makes further arguments based on gay marriage diverging from what they believe to be natural law and the fact a gay couple is, as they put it, a “naturally sterile union”.
Arguments like TFP’s are supported by some big names in politics and culture. Mitt Romney, for example, remains one of the biggest and most recognizable names in the debate. On Romney’s own webpage it is asserted that he believes marriage is only between one man and one woman. In spite of his conservative views, however, he does take the more moderate stance of believing civil unions should be allowed. For gay couples worldwide, the civil union often means a right to the tax benefits offered by marriage, albeit a significant limitation regarding adoption.
Other big names have made it clear they are decidedly more conservative than Romney. Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chik-fil-A, made some very controversial comments about his opposition to gay marriage in July 2012. Among celebrities, stars including Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, and Victoria Jackson all have made disparaging remarks against the LGBT community—each of them drawing some significant heat through social media channels as a result.
Anti-gay sentiments do not characterize religious communities overall, however. Many religious bodies have gone on record as being more balanced or inclusive with regard to gender identity and the cause of LGBT rights. Pennsylvania-based Red Letter Christians is one such group at the vanguard of faith support for the LGBT community and challenging the arguments of fundamentalist “anti-gay Christian” campaigns.
“It is not that the arguments for same-sex marriage are so convincing or appealing, but that the arguments against it are so weak,” says Morf Morford, an author for Red Letter Christians.
Morford goes further in arguing that those who are heterosexual cannot even consider themselves within their rights to dictate how homosexuals live their own lives, a key point asserted by many in the campaign for marriage equality.
As other nations consider gay marriage, clearly there is no shortage of voices ready to speak up pro and con. Based on current trends and recent track records it looks like France will soon be superseded by yet other nations ready to follow the 14 who already have voted “yes”.