The first gay couple to marry in France since the controversial same-sex marriage bill recently became law have said their vows.
The ceremony in the southern city of Montpellier could not be called intimate. The family and friends of the couple, Vincent Autin et Bruno Boileau, were joined by a horde of reporters and photographers.
The government’s spokeswoman was also on hand.
The ceremony, led by the Socialist major of Montpellier, was broadcast live on French TV.
Extra police were drafted in following fears that demonstrators from the extreme right might turn up.
“To all those who have fought for many years to bring France into the modern world, it is a fight that has been won,” Vincent told reporters. “It is a fight that has been well-fought.”
The mothers of the couple shared in their joy.
“If they decide to have a child, then this child will be very happy to live with two great fathers.” said one. “They make a good couple. They will be great parents because they are great people.”
Opinion polls suggest up to 60% of French people support gay marriage, but only about 50% approve of gay adoption.
France is now the 14th country to legalise gay marriage after New Zealand last month.
This was not an intimate ceremony, said euronews’ correspondent Francois Chignac. The question now is whether this union between two people of the same sex will put an end to the surrounding controversy, or whether it will further fan the flames.
Separately, the French police said they were continuing to search for the man responsible for stabbing a uniformed soldier in the neck on Saturday evening, an act that may have been inspired by the murder of a British soldier last week in retaliation for Western military intervention in Muslim countries.
The antigay marriage march occurred as a recent poll shows many French are losing patience with the protests against the “marriage for all” law that passed May 18. The demonstrations have broadened to include those angry at the president for his overall leadership and some far-right protesters who have been violent.
Marchers converged from three parts of Paris to the esplanade in front of the Invalides. There was a separate, smaller march by conservative Christians.
In general, the demonstrations against the law have included a combination of religious leaders and their followers, opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds, and more conservative French, many of them Roman Catholic, who believe that gay couples should have equal rights, but within an institution other than marriage. Many also object to the new ability of gay married couples to adopt children, arguing that a child should be raised by a man and a woman.
In the prelude to the protest, on Saturday night, 59 people were arrested after chaining themselves to metal barricades on the Champs-Élysées. On Sunday, 19 demonstrators were arrested after they climbed onto the headquarters of the Socialist Party and unfurled a banner demanding that President President François Hollande resign. Police officers also seized a van with masks, banners and smoke bombs, and near the end of Sunday’s demonstration, they used tear gas to break up a gathering of some masked protesters believed to be rightists known as “ultras.”
As an indication of the confusion around the focus of Sunday’s march, the main opposition party, the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, or UMP, was split on whether to join. The party’s president, Jean-François Copé, urged participation, while other party dignitaries, like former foreign minister, Alain Juppé, urged people to remain at home.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a Socialist, accused the UMP of “sparking tension and radicalization.”
With much advance publicity, the first gay marriage is supposed to take place Wednesday in Montpellier, sometimes called the San Francisco of France.
The case of the wounded soldier, Pfc. Cédric Cordier, 23, is being handled by France’s antiterrorism court, officials said Sunday. He was stabbed in the back of the neck with a box cutter or short knife as he patrolled with two colleagues through the transport station of La Défense, a business area in a western suburb of Paris.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the soldier in the hospital and said that he had been targeted because he was a soldier. Initial reports said that the assailant was a man of North African appearance, about 30 years old, with a small beard. By the time the two soldiers patrolling in front could react, the man had disappeared into a crowd.
Private Cordier was in stable condition at a military hospital; the knife missed his jugular vein, doctors said.
The police suggested on Sunday that the deed may have been inspired by the attack on a British soldier in a London street on Wednesday. A spokesman for the police union UNSA, Christophe Crépin, said there were similarities with the London attack. “I think this person wanted to imitate what happened in London,” he told TELE television.
But the interior minister, Manuel Valls, who ordered the terrorism investigation, said it was too early to determine the motivation for the attack because the police had yet to arrest a suspect or gather enough evidence to offer credible theories about what inspired it.
France has been on high alert since its military intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali in January. That prompted threats against French interests from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Source: New York Times
Tuesday evening's vote was 13 to five. It came after one of the bill's eight sponsors, Democrat Patrick Leahy, withdrew an amendment that would have given same-sex couples the same legal protections in immigration questions as heterosexual couples.
Several conservative Republicans said they would pull their support for the immigration bill if this were included.
The committee approved other amendments, including one by Republican Orrin Hatch, raising the number of visas available to highly-skilled foreign workers.
The bill's core purpose is to give 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States the chance to become legal residents if they meet the bill's conditions.
President Barack Obama has called immigration reform one of his top priorities. He congratulated the Judiciary Committee for its vote, saying it is consistent with common sense reform.
He said no one got everything he wanted in the bill, but said the Senate owes it to the American people to get the best possible result.
Source: VOA News
The mayor of the southern city of Montpellier, sometimes called “the French San Francisco,” intends to officiate at the first gay wedding, which is likely to be no sooner than May 29, because by French law an application for a marriage must be filed at City Hall 10 days before the ceremony itself.
“Love has won out over hate,” the mayor, Hélène Mandroux, a Socialist like Mr. Hollande, said Saturday. She has been pressing for a gay marriage law since 2009, while voicing concerns that the first such wedding could attract violent protests along with the inevitable and engineered publicity.
The government’s spokeswoman and minister for the rights of women, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, intends to attend.
One couple seeking to be the first to wed under the new law is Vincent Autin, 40, the president of Lesbian and Gay Pride Montpellier, and his partner of seven years, Bruno, 30. Bruno prefers not to provide his surname because he works for the state, though the couple has been featured on television, in newspapers and magazines.
France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. In the United States, Washington, D.C., and 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage.
For Mr. Hollande, who is riding low in the opinion polls, the passage of the law over considerable public opposition was a significant victory, given his campaign promise to legalize gay marriage within the first year of his administration (Saturday was within days of his May 15 anniversary in office).
But considering the opposition and significant economic problems in France, now in a triple-dip recession, Mr. Hollande also wants to move on to other important and controversial changes in the structure of the French economy, including pension changes and spending cuts.
Mr. Hollande signed the bill a day after the Constitutional Council dismissed a legal challenge by the right-wing opposition. “I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption of these marriages,” he said.
Gay rights advocates praised the law, while a watchdog group, SOS Homophobie, said that France “has taken a great step forward today, although it is regrettable that it was taken in a climate of bad faith and homophobic violence.”
Protests against the law, led by religious leaders and conservative groups, drew hundreds of thousands of people at their height, with scattered violence on the margins. Opponents of the measures have vowed to fight on, having already called another protest for May 26. There was a small protest Friday night near the historic Pantheon, in the Latin Quarter.
The law allows all married couples to adopt children. It does not provide state aid to help same-sex couples procreate, however.
The leader of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, Jean-François Copé, told the newspaper Le Monde on Saturday that if the right returned to power (which is hardly imminent), it would “rewrite” the measure to clarify the legal descent of children adopted by gay couples and to “better protect the rights of children.”
He said he disagreed with the law as it stood but respected the decision of the Constitutional Council. “It is a decision that I regret but that I accept,” he said Friday.
Mr. Copé said he would attend the May 26 demonstration, which he hoped would broadly include all those disappointed with Mr. Hollande’s leadership. He called on them to turn their unhappiness into political commitment.
Source: New York Times
The French Senate has approved another essential component of the marriage equality legislation, an article approving adoption rights for same-sex couples. With both that article and the basic marriage equality article passed, it’s likely the Senate will have no trouble passing the full bill in its entirety, but that might still take several weeks. It will also have to return to the National Assembly for final approval, which will likely happen in late May.
In France, the issues of same-sex marriage and adoption are considered separately, with adoption being a much more contentious matter. The same poll that found 63 percent of French voters support marriage equality found that only 49 percent support adoption rights. Theboisterous rallies opposed to the legislation have championed the idea that children deserve a mother and a father, a talking point seemingly exported by American anti-gay groups. Opponents say they will organize another mass protest in Paris on May 26 if the legislation is approved, arguing it should be withdrawn and calling for a national referendum instead.
Source: Think Progress
Uruguayan lawmakers voted Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so, after Canada and Argentina. President José Mujica, whose governing Broad Front majority backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days.
Source: New York Times
Men and women, some with their children — along with a strong contingent of elderly people — assembled near the Arc de Triomphe and hoisted signs reading “Don’t touch marriage, take care of unemployment!” and “Everyone is born from a man and a woman.”
The police estimated that 300,000 protesters took part, 40,000 fewer than they said attended a similar rally in January, but organizers said 1.4 million people showed up. Among the marchers were prominent politicians from the main opposition party, the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, which has called upon its members to protest.
Near the end of the demonstration, small groups of young protesters tried to overrun barriers onto the Champs-Élysées, and the police fired tear gas to drive them back, The Associated Press reported.
Roman Catholic, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders oppose the bill, which has already passed the lower house of Parliament and is expected to be approved by the Senate next month. The Catholic Church, in particular, has mobilized its members to protest.
Many opponents have focused on a provision that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Some opponents also say they fear the bill would eventually lead to the legalization of artificial insemination for lesbian couples or surrogate mothers for male couples.
Mr. Hollande, a Socialist who was elected last May, campaigned on a pledge to legalize same-sex marriage; his party holds majorities in both houses of Parliament, and passage has seemed all but assured.
But he has waffled on occasion. He once voiced support for a provision to allow mayors, who preside over civil marriage ceremonies in France, to decline to wed gay couples. He has since stepped back from that position.
Civil unions have existed in France since 1999 and are open to same-sex couples. But the unions are not accompanied by the same suite of rights as marriage.
Opinion polling suggests that a solid majority of French favor legalizing same-sex marriage; the proportion is closer to half with regard to adoption by same-sex couples.
Source: New York Times
The Most Rev Justin Welby told the BBC he had "particular friends where I recognise that and am deeply challenged by it".
But he said he still supported the Church of England's formal opposition to active homosexuality.
He spoke ahead of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral later.
The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron will be among the 2,000 expected guests.
Mr Welby - the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the Anglican communion - said: "You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship."
While he did not doubt the Church's policy on same-sex relationships, he was "challenged as to how we respond to it", he added.
"The Church of England holds very firmly, and continues to hold to the view, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man to one woman," he said.
"At the same time, at the heart of our understanding of what it is to be human, is the essential dignity of the human being. And so we have to be very clear about homophobia."
Asked if the Church would turn a blind eye to some gay relationships, he said: "It's not a blind eye - it's about loving people as they are and where they are.
"You'll find that in every church and you'll find that because it imitates the character and the practice of Jesus himself."
Last month, the archbishop said he stood by the Church of England's opposition to the introduction of gay marriage.
He spoke before the Commons approved same-sex marriage in England and Wales by voting for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by a majority of 225.
The government believes the wording of the bill will ensure the Church of England and the Church in Wales will not face any legal challenges to their opposition to holding same-sex marriages in their buildings.
All religious organisations will be able to opt in to holding ceremonies, but the Church of England and the Church in Wales would first need to agree to change canon law.
Mr Welby, 57, is married with five children. He went to school at Eton, and later Cambridge University.
He rose to the top of the oil industry - ending up as treasurer of Enterprise Oil - and gave up a six-figure salary to train as a priest.
He was a vicar in Warwickshire, a canon of Coventry Cathedral, and the Dean of Liverpool, before being appointed as Bishop of Durham in November 2011.
The BBC's religious affairs correspondent, Robert Pigott, says the new archbishop is inheriting a Church which has seen congregation numbers decline dramatically in recent decades, and which is struggling to promote a Christian message to an increasingly sceptical and secular society.
It will be seen as his job to unite a Church deeply riven by disputes about women bishops, and, more dangerously, sexuality, our correspondent adds.
Source: BBC News
Bergoglio has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, contraception and abortion and is considered to be among the most conservative in Latin America. In 2010, for instance, Bergoglio stated that same-sex adoption is a form of discrimination against children and has said that same-sex marriage is “a scheme to destroy God’s plan” and “a real and dire anthropological throwback.” He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow for marriage equality, writing a letter warning that it would “gravely harm the family.”
However, Bergoglio has focused on helping the poor throughout his career, noting, “The suffering of innocent and peaceful continues to slap us, the contempt for the rights of individuals and peoples are so far away, the rule of money with his demonic effects as drugs, corruption, trafficking people, including children, along with material and moral poverty are big problems.”
In 2001, upon becoming cardinal, Bergoglio “discouraged people from spending the money to fly to Rome to celebrate with him and advised that they instead donate the funds to help alleviate poverty at home.” He lived in a simple apartment, cooked his own food, and traveled by bus instead of a chauffeured limousine.
However, Bergoglio has been criticized by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for his behavior during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina, with some journalists claiming that he prevented human rights groups from finding political prisoners by imprisoning them in his vacation home.
During the period of the dictatorship, the Catholic Church failed to confront the regime, even as it was kidnapping and killing thousands. The church eventually issued a blanket apology for its actions in October of 2012, though Bergoglio “invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court” to address two cases in which he was directly involved. When he did testify in 2010, his “answers were evasive,” human rights activists claim.
It has been 1,272 years since a non-European pope led the Church, and is particularly appropriate today, as the number of Catholics have declined in Europe, but grown significantly throughout Latin America. It is now home to 41 percent of Catholics and is “perceived as a Catholic bedrock that needs support to counter the tremendous growth of Protestantism. ”
White smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel at 7:07 PM at Vatican City, as the crowd cheered loudly in anticipation. The inaugural mass for the new Pope could take place as early as this week.
Source: Think Progress
Respected sociologist Li Yinhe has submitted a proposal to China's government suggesting legalizing gay marriage, as she has regularly since 2003.
Li said on Sina Weibo (China's Twitter) that a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) has taken her proposal to the NPC annual meeting that started this week in Beijing.
'Homosexual people are Chinese citizens and there are homosexuals who want to get married. Their request should be addressed as it does not run against their civil rights as citizens,' reads Li’s proposal, South China Morning Post reports.
Li is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This year is the fifth time she has lobbied the NPC to legalize gay marriage.
It is unlikely however that Li's suggestion will become law as it can only become a formal legislative proposal after it is signed by 30 out of the 3,000 NPC members and no officials have supported gay marriage during Li's previous four lobbies of the NPC.
Last year Li argued that if China legalizes gay marriage the country will gain the 'upper hand' over the United States, that was before President Obama announced his support.
Li's call for gay marriage in China is joined this year by the voices of parents of gay children - PFLAG China sent a letter to the NPC last week.
'Some of our children have been with their same-sex partners for almost ten years,' the letter said. 'They care for and love each other dearly, but they are unable to legally sign for their partners when they are ill and in need of an operation.'
The Chinese government rarely responds to calls from citizens, but that doesn't stop Li from persevering.
Li's proposal this year included six arguments for why China should legalize same-sex marriage, based on her own sociological research:
- it's not against any current laws
- the countries with the most advanced human rights laws allow same-sex marriage
- if gay people could marry there would be more committed same-sex relationships which would halt the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
- same-sex marriage will help with population control
- if same-sex marriage is allowed gay men would not feel pressure to marry straight women, which causes a lot of emotional trauma in China
- allowing same-sex marriage will create a more harmonious society
'In short, allowing same-sex marriage will not harm China. This proposal is for the good of the nation, the people and the gay minority.'
Source: Gay Star News