France’s highest court upheld the decision of a lower court and rejected the 2004 “marriage” of two homosexual men. The court declared the marriage annulled, finding that “under French law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman.”

In 2004, Noel Mamére, mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Begles, illegally “married” the two men, despite a prior warning from then-president Jean-Pierre Raffarin that “any elected official who does not respect the law in this matter … will be exposed to the sanctions provided for by the law.” Mamére ignored both the law and the warning and carried out the ceremony. The state prosecutor immediately initiated annulment proceedings for the “marriage” and Mamére was publicly criticized by several political figures. He received a month-long suspension of his mayoral duties as punishment.

Previous attempts by the homosexual couple to appeal the annulment in lower courts have also ended in rejection. Among other reasons, lower courts have argued that unmarried couples – both homosexual and heterosexual – already enjoy many privileges usually reserved to married couples, according to 1999 legislation that legalized civil unions, known as Partes Civil de Solidarité (PacS). The PacS legislation allowed unmarried couples to share certain welfare and employment benefits, file joint tax returns and enter into property agreements together.

As in other parts of the world, gay “marriage” is currently a hot and controversial topic of debate in France, but even more so as French citizens face a presidential election in April.

The two frontrunners in the race, conservative Nicolas Sarközy, leader of the Union for a Popular Movement party, and Ségolène Royal, member of the left-wing Socialist party, have waged many of their campaign battles around the issue. Sarközy has vowed that, should his party win, he would affirm current French law that outlaws gay “marriage” and forbids homosexual adoption of children. Royal, on the other hand, in a complete change from her previous “no gay-marriage” stance, has rallied the gay rights community by promising to legalize gay “marriage” and adoption.

In 2006, a commission formed by the president of the French National Assembly advised that, despite recognition of the fact that the French concept of family has become “more diverse and less institutionalized,” homosexual marriage and adoption and artificial procreation for homosexual couples should not be permitted under French law.

The purpose of the commission, entitled Information Mission, was to investigate where, if at all, French law should be updated to better protect the rights of children and to reflect changes in the French family. The commission spent a full year in an attempt to give complete attention to all viewpoints on the matter. The final report argued that, with gay “marriage” would necessarily come gay adoption because, “Marriage is not merely the contractual recognition of the love between a couple, it is a framework that imposes rights and duties and that is designed to provide for the care and harmonious development of the child.”

The commission also concluded that, due to the procreative nature of marriage, natural marriage must be preserved. “This corresponds to a biological reality, that same-sex couples are naturally infertile and to an imperative, that of helping the child develop his/her identity as necessarily coming from the union of a man and a woman.”

In its conclusions, the commission publicized its findings by saying that its ultimate decision to advise against gay “marriage” and adoption was “to affirm and protect children’s rights and the primacy of those rights over adults’ aspirations.”

The article originally appeared March 14 on and is reprinted with permission .