Hundreds of thousands in Paris protest gay marriage
By Tom Heneghan, Reuters
January 14, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
PARIS -- Several hundred thousand people were marching through Paris on Sunday against the planned legalization of same-sex marriage in the first mass protest against the unpopular President Francois Hollande.
Strongly backed by the Catholic hierarchy, lay activists have mobilized a hybrid coalition of church-going families, political conservatives, Muslims, evangelicals and even homosexuals opposed to gay marriage for the show of force.
People converged on Paris from around France. Police had organizers split the rally into three separate columns starting from different points around the city and meeting in the Champ de Mars park at the Eiffel Tower.
Frigide Barjot, an eccentric comedian leading the so-called "Demo for All," insists the protest is pro-marriage rather than anti-gay and has banned all but its approved banners saying a child needs a father and a mother to develop properly.
"We're all born of a man and a woman, but the law will say the opposite tomorrow," she said last week. "It will say a child is born of a man and a man."
Hollande, who promised to legalize gay marriage and adoption during his election campaign last spring, has a comfortable parliamentary majority to pass the law by June as planned.
But his clumsy handling of other promises, such as a 75-percent tax on the rich that was ruled unconstitutional or his faltering struggle against rising unemployment, has soured the public mood. A mass street protest can hardly help his image.
Marriage Or Jobs For All?
Same-sex nuptials are already legal in 11 countries including Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway and South Africa, as well as nine U.S. states and Washington D.C.
Gay marriage opponents such as Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the Catholic Church in France, have asked why Hollande is pushing through a divisive social reform called "marriage for all" when voters seem more concerned about "jobs for all."
Vingt-Trois spearheaded the opposition with a critical sermon in August. Other faith leaders — Muslim, Jewish, Protestant and Orthodox Christian — soon spoke out too.