Yesterday I was listening to local public radio as it carried an interview with the 'husband' of a deceased male war veteran. He had won recognition as a next of kin. The story wasn't that big really, except for the same-sex nature of the union. The interviewer wound up by saying so-and-so was married to the other. Which of course is the case legally in the US State in question.
So to read the following is very welcome news. From the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.
French High Court Affirms Traditional MarriagePARIS, February 3 (C-FAM) A ruling in the homeland of “égalité” last week found the French prohibition of same-sex marriage is in accord with the French constitution, effectively ruling that there is nothing unequal about upholding the definition of marriage as between man and woman.
The demand for “equality” is the hallmark of most national and international campaigns for homosexual rights, particularly those concerned with same-sex marriage. Discussions at the UN regarding sexual orientation are rife with references to equality and non-discrimination.
The French Constitutional Council is the nation’s highest authority on the constitution, and while it normally advises the government on the constitutionality of elections and laws, it also has authority to rule on constitutionality of individual cases brought to it by French citizens. This fall, the Council accepted the case of a lesbian couple that challenged the constitutionality of the French Civil Code (which identifies marriage between man and woman), claiming the exclusion of same-sex marriage violated a citizen’s right to lead a “normal family life” and the principle of equality before the law.
The Council ruled last Friday that because of the difference of situations between same-sex and heterosexual couples, the difference in treatment in family laws is justified and not in violation of the principle of equality. As for the right to a normal family life, the court found that the pacte civil de solidarité, a form of civil union that accords a plethora of legal, fiscal, and official benefits, is sufficient for a “normal family life.”
The Council refrained from commenting on same-sex marriage itself, stating it is a matter of politics, not law, to decide such an issue. The opposition government, France’s Socialist Party, has already promised to call for a vote on same-sex marriage in Parliament this summer.
Regardless of the parliament’s vote, there is a distinct possibility that activist groups will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, in the hopes that the Court will challenge France’s decision. This past Tuesday, a UK-based advocacy group launched a campaign to get the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the UK’s ban on same sex marriage. A similar legal campaign may not be far off for France, since the case is “ripe for review by the Strasburg court,” according to Roger Kiska, Legal Counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund. However, he foresees no chance of the European Court of Human Rights being able to successfully challenge the Council’s decision.
According to Kiska, a same-sex marriage case was brought before the court already, which resulted in a ruling that it is “within a state’s margin of appreciation to decide upon its own family laws.” The French Council’s decision that the difference in treatment in family laws is justified falls within the “margin of appreciation” outlined in the European court’s ruling, and thus the Court should be unable to challenge France’s decision. With this in mind, and hopeful that the French Parliament will uphold traditional marriage when it inevitably comes to a vote, Kiska seems to be optimistic about the future of marriage legislation in this powerful European nation.