Same-sex marriage is not legal in France. As of 2006, one same-sex marriage ceremony has been conducted in France and was declared void. France has a statute authorizing civil unions, known as PACS, between same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples.
Same-sex marriage was an issue in the 2007 presidential election, with the Conservative UMP opposing it and the Socialist Party supporting it, though both candidates support civil unions (PACS).
Mamère and same-sex marriage
On June 5, 2004, former Green Party presidential candidate Noël Mamère, Mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Bègles, conducted a same-sex marriage ceremony for two men, Bertrand Charpentier and Stéphane Chapin. Mamère claimed that there was nothing in French law to prohibit such a ceremony, and that he would appeal any challenge to the European Court of Human Rights.
French Justice Minister Dominique Perben had stated that such unions would be legally void, and called for judicial intervention to halt the ceremony. On July 27, 2004, the Bordeaux court of general jurisdiction declared the marriage null and void. One legal argument defended by the public prosecutor, which, representing the national government, opposed the marriage, was that the civil code speaks several times of a husband and a wife, which implies different genders (the French for wife, femme, actually means woman in addition to wife). On April 19, 2005, the appeals court of Bordeaux upheld the ruling. Charpentier and Chapin announced they would appeal the ruling before the Court of Cassation on grounds of discrimination.
Shortly after the ceremony took place, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin instituted disciplinary procedures against Mamère. Mamère was suspended for a month. The local administrative court ruled that Mamère's suspension was legal and motivated. Mamère said he would not appeal the ruling (Mamère had already unsuccessfully tried to obtain an injunction from the court, and then had appealed the case to the Conseil d'État; both had ruled that an injunction was not justified on grounds of urgency).
On May 11, 2004, Socialist Party leader François Hollande announced that he would ask his party to file a draft law which would render such marriages unequivocally legal. Some other party leaders, such as former prime minister Lionel Jospin, disapproved publicly of same-sex marriages. Hollande's partner, Ségolène Royal, said at the time that she had doubts about same-sex marriage, now supports it fully.
A parliamentary "Report on the Family and the Rights of Children" was released on January 25, 2006. Although the committee recommended increasing some rights given in PACS, it recommended maintaining prohibitions against marriage, adoption, and access to medically assisted reproduction for same-sex couples, arguing that these three issues were inseparable and that allowing them would contravene a number of articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which France is a signatory (although many UN nations do grant some or all of these rights to same-sex couples). Referring to the rights of children as a human rights issue, the report argued that children "now have rights and to systematically give preference to adult aspirations over respect for these rights is not possible any more."  Because of these prohibitions, left-wing members of the committee rejected the report.
Opinion polls have been mixed on the issue. A 2003 poll by Gallup had support at 58%, while a 2004 poll by ELLE had support at 64%. A 2006 poll by BVA Research placed support for same-sex marriage at 60% for youth in France. A June 2006 poll by TNS-Sofres / Le Nouvel Observateur had support at 45% and opposition at 51%.
- Pacte civil de solidarité
- Human rights in France
- Gay rights in France
- CSM article: "France joins gay marriage debate (May 2004)"
- BBC News article: "France annuls first gay wedding (July 2004)"
- Washington Times article: "France ready to change civil pact (Dec. 2004)"
- Report on the Family and the Rights of Children: Executive summary, List of proposals and full report (January 2006)
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