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On marriage, the French take the lead

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 28, 2013

Years ago, a French friend visiting the US remarked that he was struck by the energy and persistence of the American pro-life movement. There was nothing like it in France, he said. There were French pro-lifers, of course, but they didn't have the strength in numbers and the organizations needed to maintain a constant presence on that country's political scene. 

Today, watching from this side of the Atlantic as hundreds of thousands of French citizens march in defense of marriage, I can't help thinking that now they are building a movement, the like of which we haven't seen here in the US. I don't mean to denigrate the efforts of many good people who have fought every political battle. I realize that there have been rallies and marches and demonstrations. But to march the scale of the protests in Paris, we'd need to see 4-5 million people gathered in Washington to defend marriage—not once but repeatedly!

Why have hundreds of thousands of French men and women joined in this political cause—and continued the campaign even after the legislative battle was lost—after years of passive acquiescence to legal abortion? I don't know. But I hope Christian Americans will be inspired by their example. I plan to visit my French friend in Paris someday soon. I don't want to have to tell him that we Americans don't have anything like the vigorous French mass movement to defend the meaning of marriage. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: meegan2136289 - May. 29, 2013 12:36 PM ET USA

    Sounds like the French have a leader to rally around (a comedienne who had been famous prior to this issue). The French also have a more positive focus, ie, "children deserve a mother and father," as opposed to some Americans' constant reminders about the SIN OF HOMOSEXUALITY!!!! (which is irrelevant to our opposition to a polygamous redefinition of marriage anyways). France also has civil unions, so maybe they feel that gays and lesbians don't need to insist on calling their unions "marriage."

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - May. 29, 2013 12:02 AM ET USA

    Phil, the plain fact is "we Americans don't have anything like the vigorous French mass movement to defend the meaning of marriage" -- honestly, we don't. The fact is, we rolled over and played dead. For as much as we think the French are all about "love" (i.e. eros), at least a good number of them understand the difference between good eros and bad eros and believe the distinction is something worth defending.