French Elle Takes Sides in Gay Marriage Debate

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Photo: Nicolas Valois/Elle France

French president Francois Hollande’s promised same-sex marriage bill is expected to go before parliament in about ten days, and Elle, for one, is onboard. The magazine demonstrated its support with a "Marriage for all!" issue, out tomorrow. 

The all-brides-no-grooms cover comes after weekend protests of the legislation. Hundreds of thousands of people convened near the Eiffel Tower, carrying pink and blue signs that said “Mother and father, it’s best for the child.” France is generally tolerant of same-sex relationships and opposition centers upon the part of the law that would establish legal parenthood for gay couples. Much like the Gallic fixation on appellation — knowing, down to the GPS coordinates, where the grapes in one’s glass of red wine were grown — opponents of the bill say it’s necessary for a child’s mental health to know where he or she came from, biologically speaking.

As a result, Elle editorial director Valérie Toranian points out, opposition and support do not fall along the familiar lines. She wrote:

“This debate is not primarily between old and modern, right and left, homophobes and progressives: there are gay, pro-marriage Catholics, left- and right-leaning psychologists fiercely attached to the symbolism of gender difference as a necessity for any potential child. There are feminists who advocate for IVF for lesbians, but who oppose surrogate mothers for gays because they denounce the commodification of women’s bodies.”

Indeed, there is no shortage of hard-to-categorize activists eager to tell the New York Times why they oppose gay marriage. One of the opposition’s most visible leaders, the “flamboyant” comedian Frigide Barjot, reminded the Times, “to make a child, you need a man and a woman." Any other arrangement is “is totally contrary to reality." "The problem is not homosexuality, but human filiation” — that is, knowledge of and access to one’s biological parents. Likewise, gay Protestant author Armand Laferrère told the Times that “what’s at stake is that the law gives arbitrary power to the state to decide who is a parent and who is not,” he said. “That is a deep problem for the identity of the child, which should not be for the state to decide.”

I'm all for a law protecting one's right to build the family she wants, nature be damned. But I would humbly suggest that the model brides pictured be legally obligated to disclose to their daughters whether or not they can expect to inherit such bone structure.