French Anti-Gay Marriage Protests Draw Hundreds of Thousands

Protests against French President Francois Hollande’s proposal to allow same-sex marriage drew hundreds of thousands of people into the streets in Paris.

“There are many people who are worried about this law,” Laurent Wauquiez, a minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said today on Europe 1 radio. “Do we have to destroy the family and the place of children in it? We must pay attention to the place of children.” Wauquiez joined the demonstration.

About 340,000 people joined today’s marches, according to police estimates, while organizers indicated a turnout of more than 800,000. Protesters dancing to hip-hop music carried pink flags with white images of the traditional family: man, woman and two children.

“I don’t think this will alter the determination of the president to present this law,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on RTL radio. “It’s normal, given the evolution of the family, that we can now recognize this type of marriage.”

Polls show that a majority of French voters favor giving same-sex couples the right to marry, though they oppose giving such couples rights to adoption or medically-assisted procreation. Pollster BVA found that 58 percent of voters favor gay marriage, while 53 percent oppose adoption for gay couples, according to a survey published Jan. 10. CSA, another polling company, found Jan. 11 that 52 percent favor gay marriage and the same proportion oppose adoption by same-sex couples.

Former President Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement party is shifting its stance to calling for a referendum on the matter.

“This doesn’t just concern same-sex couples, it’s a fundamental question for society,” former Interior Minister Claude Gueant said. “Instead of presenting this law to parliament, the president should allow the people to decide. No one can argue with that.”

The bill is scheduled to go to the National Assembly at the end of January.

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