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Thousands March Against Marriage Equality Bill In France
March 25, 2013
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Hundreds of thousands of people have hit the streets of Paris to protest against a same-sex marriage bill sponsored by President François Hollande.

France's Socialist government is currently backing a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. Last month, the National Assembly (France's lower house of parliament) approved it with a large majority.

It still faces a final vote in the Senate on April 4. Both the Senate and the National Assembly are dominated by Hollande's Socialist party, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Marchers waved signs, including phrases like "Don't touch marriage, take care of unemployment!", "Everyone is born from a man and a woman," and "No to gayxtremism."

Police say the crowd numbered 300,000, while anti-same-sex marriage activists say there were 1.4 million people on the streets.

The protests started out peacefully, but near the end, about 100 young people tried to break through police barriers on the Champs Élysées. Police fired tear gas and fought protestors to keep them behind the barriers.

Eventually, the crowd made it onto the Champs Élysées, with some chanting "Hollande, resign" and singing France's national anthem, 'La Marseillaise'.

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The march is definitely getting people talking online. Here's what some people are saying about the protest, and the issue of same-sex marriage in French society:

''Anti-gay' Protest in France: About Homophobia or Hunger?' by Jillian Page

Writing in the Montreal Gazette, Jillian Page suggests that Sunday's protests were "only partly about the same-sex marriage issue." She writes that the event was "as much - if not more - a protest against the president's economic policies and unemployment, which is running over 10 per cent these days."

She suggests the media is focusing on the anti-same sex marriage issue, "which must make the organizers of the rally very happy, even though those organizers capitalized on the greater economic issues and used people to further their fundamentalist views and, perhaps, recruti new sheep - and contributions - to their ever-dwindling flocks."

'Lessons from France on Defending Marriage' from The Public Discourse

Writing on the 'Public Discourse' website of The Witherspoon Institute, a New Jersey-based conservative think tank, Robert Oscar Lopez refers to the protests as "the last stand for the traditional family."

He suggests that "France offers activists an example of a country that can question gay rhetoric without engaging in the violent homophobia one sees in the repressive laws of Putin's Russia."

Lopez urges American anti-same-sex marriage activists to follow the protesters' "playbook closely, because it is probably the surest way to break the stalemate in the United States about marriage and the Fourteenth Amendment."

He suggests that activists in the U.S. can succeed by focusing on "a threat to the nation's children," which he argues same-sex parenting represents.

If anti-gay marriage Catholics can pray in public in France, why can't Muslims? from Quartz

Alongside Sunday's march, a Catholic group called Civitas organized public prayers to protest the bill. Praying publicly in the streets of Paris was officially outlawed in September, 2011.

Paris-based writer Emma-Kate Symons suggests there is a "double standard" with regards to public prayer in France.

She writes that Muslims are "obliged to use abandoned carparks and disused fire stations to avoid arrest" if they wish to pray, while "right-wing and centrist groups that have been crying foul over French Muslims performing their daily prayers in public have suddenly gone silent [about the Catholic prayer demonstration], along with the Socialist Party leadership."

She concludes that "what is so 'offensive' about public prayer is that the rules prohibiting it are simply not being applied with the same rigour to the renegade Catholic agitators."

'Lesbian kiss steals spotlight at French anti-gay parenting protest' from France 24

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Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

This photograph was shot last week at an event organized to protest the bill. An AFP photographer at a protest called "One Dad One Mom" caught this moment when two women shared a kiss.

The pic was posted online by French LGBT magazine Têtu.fr and Buzzfeed, and went viral. The two girls are 17-year-old Julia and 19-year-old Auriane. They're not gay, but they told Têtu it was "a gesture of solidarity, pure and simple."

'Anti-Gay-Marriage Protest Becomes Catch-All for French Gloom' from Bloomberg

Vidya Root writes that the protest "turned into a lightning rod for anger over President François Hollande's economic policies."

The article points out that "Hollande has become the most unpopular French leader since 1981," based on a TNS-Sofres poll, and French daily paper Liberation reported that this protest differed from an earlier march due to "a much higher number of placards with political and economic slogans."

'Same Sex Marriage: French Right Wing Protests Gay Marriage, With a Twist' from Policy Mic

Tom McKay writes that "the protestors have taken on new tactics and strategies to avoid being labeled as homophobes and prevent the rallies from backfiring."

He points out that Frigide Barjot, the French comedian who leads the protests, gives them "the outward appearance of being moderate." And in general, McKay believes, "Anti-gay marriage activists in France are finding surprising success by recharacterizing their opposition to gay marriage as concern for families."

But McKay says he doesn't buy it: "While the organizers proudly proclaim themselves to be non-political and non-religious, this looks like a cover for the same impulse: deny gays, lesbians, and other persons of nontraditional orientation the same rights France extends to heterosexuals."

Related:

France's New President Moving Ahead With Plans To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage & Allow Gay Couples To Adopt

The Changing Face Of Canadian Families: Gay Marriage And Common Law Relationships On The Rise In Canada

Dear America: Support Gay Marriage Or These Gay Guys Will Marry Your Girlfriends!

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