Bench Memos

The Fascinating French Coalition to Save Marriage

Far be it from me to suggest that the Supreme Court look to foreign sources or opinions to guide its deliberations in the two cases now pending on same-sex marriage.  But the shape of things in the current French debate over this issue is instructive indeed.  As I pointed out recently at Public Discourse, it is not that long ago that the idea of same-sex marriage was unthinkable, or at least un-thought-of, by . . . well, anyone, really.  And still more recently, well into the period when the advocacy of this redefinition of marriage had made its appearance, it was far from clear that most gays and lesbians even wanted this legal and social upheaval.  Yet today, there is a deadening uniformity in the “gay community,” with dissent from the marriage revolution extremely rare, and ruthlessly suppressed when it appears.  And the enforcement of the orthodoxy has swept thoroughly through the left in general–through the academy, the media and entertainment industries, the mainline churches, the elite law firms.

But in France, as Robert Oscar Lopez shows in an eye-opening Public Discourse essay today, there is a real debate happening, and it crosses the usual ideological lines.  There we see vocal members of the gay community, liberals all, linking arms with conservative defenders of marriage.  Their common ground?  That it is wrong to think that anyone has a right to children, and that we should instead be thinking of the right of children.  What right is that?  The right of each child to his or her own mother and father.  That is what marriage is all about.

Our Supreme Court justices should not permit themselves to be buffaloed into believing that a “right to marry” can be based on nothing more than the intense desire of a few to redefine an institution that has nothing to do with their relationships, and everything to do with childbearing and childrearing.  The surprising turn of the French debate toward a discussion of the welfare of children–a turn being led in part by French homosexual activists–provides some food for thought for our Supreme Court.


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