PARIS, February 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a vote of 329-to-229, the Lower House of the French parliament has voted to bring in “gay marriage,” a decision that is generating a surprising force of opposition in this heavily secularised country. The bill must now go on to the Senate for final approval.

The bill proposes to change the legal definition of marriage to being between two persons instead of a man and a woman, and allows same-sex partners to adopt children.

Backed by President François Hollande’s Socialists and other left-wing MPs, the bill has prompted some spectacular public outpourings of opposition. Among those demonstrating against the bill are some homosexuals who say that it is not necessary to change the definition of marriage, given that existing civil partnership legislation grants most of the same privileges and rights.

Religious leaders have objected that the proposed legislation grants no allowances for conscientious or religious objection. In September, the French minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira, gave an interview with the Catholic paper La Croix saying, “We are very conscious of all the philosophical and anthropological dimensions attached to marriage. But we consider that they cannot and should not collide with the requirements of equality.”

France’s existing hate-crimes laws will likely create a legal conundrum for anyone who maintains strong religious or philosophical objections to the notion. French law makes it a crime to “discriminate” based on sex and “sexual orientation” and “sexual identity.” Among those most immediately affected by the law will be the mayors of French towns to whom the task of officiating at weddings belongs. Several representatives of the association of 36,000 mayors have already voiced strong objections, based on freedom of conscience, to the government.

But the government has shown no inclination to budge on the issue of conscience rights. “We are in a state of law; the civil code will be modified, it will be imperative for everyone, including mayors,” Taubira said.

The bill has been under clause-by-clause debate in the lower house for weeks, with the discussion at times becoming heated. Conservative members of the National Assembly slowed the debate, insisting that each separate clause be fully examined. The filibuster involved nearly 5300 amendments that had to be cleared away before the bill itself could be voted on.

Opposition came from conservative Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim leaders and it is widely acknowledged that the enormous demonstrations they organised have played a part in boosting public support for natural marriage. While most mainstream papers have reported the findings of the poll by Le Parisian in January 2012 that found about 60 per cent of the French public support the measure, what was rarely mentioned was that that support has been steadily falling. By November the same year, opposition had risen to 52 percent.

It is estimated that all together the marches, which began in October, have drawn millions to preserve natural marriage in the law.

Perhaps most surprising, among the most organized opponents has been a group of homosexuals who have voiced strong support for the meaning of marriage as inextricably connected to biology. The group Homovox has created videos that included “Jean-Marc,” the mayor of the village of Bergueil, who said that the first consideration must be not the wants of adults, but the needs of children. 

“Gay marriage,” he said, is simply “not biologically natural”. 

“We (gays) do not have the fertility, in the sense of making a baby. We have plenty of other forms of fertility. Artistic, for example, and other forms of fertility.

“In my case, I feel I’ve connected with my village, and I’ve reinvigorated a village that was dying, fading. I know how to create ties within my community.

“In summary, the law I advise would be whatever’s best for the child. One must favor what is best for the child. Nobody can deny, I believe, that it’s best for a child to have a mother and a father who love each other as best they can.” 

“Jean-Pier,” a documentary writer, said the push for the change in law comes mainly from militant homosexual political activists, and that most gay people he knows have no interest in “marrying”. But mainly the issue, he said, is in the unequal application of equality, namely one that excludes the child.

“For me, the question behind this, the fundamental issue, is the child,” Jean-Pier said.

“Among the responses I’ve heard, I’ve had this business of freedom and equality. Then I pose this question: What of the freedom and equality of the child? The child won't have its equality vis-a-vis its friends in school. Its peers may have divorced and blended families, but they have, at least, a father and mother.”