France's Justice Minister Christiane TaubiraPhoto: Telegraph/Reuters
Mothers and fathers would officially cease to exist in France if draft gay marriage legislation promoted by the new socialist government goes ahead. Instead, all references to "mothers and fathers" in the nation's civil code will be swapped for the non-gender-specific "parents". This would apply equally to heterosexual and homosexual couples in civil marriage ceremonies.
The draft law, due to go before President Francois Hollande's cabinet for approval on October 31, states that "marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender". It would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.
But the Catholic Church is fighting back -- with prayer. Reviving a custom that dates back to 1638 the bishops authorised a “prayer for France” to be read in all churches on August 15. Among other things it prayed for:
those who were recently elected to legislate and govern; that their sense of the common good of society will overcome special demands and that they have the strength to follow the directions of their conscience.
children and young people; that we will all help each one to discover their own path for progress towards happiness; that they cease to be the objects of the desires and conflicts of adults in order to fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother.
And it’s not only prayer the church is using. The Telegraph reported last month:
The head of the French Catholic Church, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, warned followers last week that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy in society. He told the Christian's RFC radio station: "Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society. "This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall."
And Pope Benedict XVI invited 30 French bishops to Italy to urge them to fight against the new law. He told them: "We have there a true challenge to take on. The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective."
The government claims it has the best interests of children at heart:
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told France's Catholic newspaper La Croix: "Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development? What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government."
This is the kind of sentimental rhetoric we are hearing from politicians everywhere. The burden of proof that children’s interests will be protected falls on those who want change, not on those who support the status quo.