Lessons from the French on Marriage?
1:28 PM, Jan 18, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Perhaps the finest book ever written on the natural complementarity of the sexes and on marriage as the core building block of civil society was written by a Swiss who was then living in France. (The book is Emile, and the author is Jean-Jacques Rousseau.) So when Robert Oscar Lopez writes at the Public Discourse, “[F]ew could have anticipated that France would host the West’s last stand for the traditional family,” perhaps France’s salutary stand shouldn’t be altogether surprising.
“The international press was shocked on November 17, 2012, when hundreds of thousands of French citizens took to the streets to fight against a parliamentary bill redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and legalizing same-sex adoption….
“The [movement’s] three most prominent spokespeople are unlikely characters: “Frigide Barjot,” a bleached-blonde comedienne famous for hanging out with male strippers at the Banana Café, and author of ‘Confessions of a Branchée Catholic’; Xavier Bongibault, a young gay atheist in Paris who fights against the ‘deep homophobia’ of the LGBT movement, believing it disgraces gays to assume that they cannot have political views ‘except according to their sexual urges’; and Laurence Tcheng, a disaffected leftist who voted for President François Hollande but disdains the way that the same-sex marriage bill is being forced through Parliament…”
“In France, a repeating refrain is ‘the rights of children trump the right to children.’ It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor ‘Jean-Marc’ to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him….
“Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift [‘from “child as subject” to “child as object”’] violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. Bunel writes:
“Bunel suggests that laws allowing gay people to create unnecessary same-sex households for unwitting children should be brought to Europe’s high court of human rights.”
John Locke actually makes a similar rights-based argument on behalf of children in his Second Treatise of Government (italics in original): “Conjugal Society is made by a voluntary Compact between Man and Woman: and…their common Off-spring…have a Right to be nourished and maintained by them, till they are able to provide for themselves.”
“It is time for Americans to follow France’s lead. Frigide Barjot, Laurence Tcheng, and Xavier Bongibault have presented us with a game changer. They have given us the necessary rhetoric and republican logic to present a strong case against redefining marriage. They have provided us a playbook for mobilizing across party lines. They’ve presented colorful characters whom we can emulate. I will keep translating the news as it comes in, in the hope that American defenders of the family will be inspired to do as the ‘march for all’ movement has done.”
But Lopez’s isn’t the only recent piece in the Public Discourse worth reading. Ryan T. Anderson recently wrote, in the spirit of Rousseau:
“Redefining marriage would abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity as an essential characteristic of marriage. Making that optional would also make other essential characteristics — such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence — optional….
“That…sounds like the abolition of marriage. Marriage is left with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality — it is simply whatever consenting adults want it to be. Some who see this logic, thinking that marriage has no form and serves no social purpose, conclude that the government should get out of the marriage business.
“If so, how will society protect the needs of children — the prime victims of our non-marital sexual culture — without government growing more intrusive and more expensive?”
Recent Blog Posts