Embarrassing Embraces

opponents in france

(French anti-equality activists Frigide Barjot and Gilbert Collard embrace in Paris, via Agence France-Presse. h/t William Lindsey)

Pending a constitutional review of its new marriage equality law, France has just become the 14th country to offer nationwide marriage rights to gay couples.

The legislative process that led to this excellent development was fraught, though, as massive anti-equality protests enveloped France for weeks, and there were reports  of violence against gay couples and gay bars throughout the country. Pictured above are two of the leaders of the opposition, Catholic celebrity Frigide Barjot and hard-right politician Gilbert Collard. Blogger and theologian William Lindsey points out that “Collard represents a political party known for its anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-socialist, anti-tax (and, historically, anti-semitic and pro-fascist) law-and-order stance.”

This leads Lindsey to ask “why Catholic leaders seem intent on embracing ideologies that militate against some of the most fundamental Catholic values imaginable…” 

The question reminds me of an argument that sometimes comes up when I get deep into online debates with certain Christians about gay marriage. Trying to prove that their opposition to gay marriage isn’t just religious, they point out that atheistic regimes, like the ones in North Korea and China, also ban gay marriage. They could take it further, too, if they wanted, and argue that gay marriage is unimaginable in Iran and Saudi Arabia.  

Meanwhile, they ignore the fact that, along with France, the list of countries that have legalized gay marriage is full of countries with long Christian histories, and with legal and educational systems built on Christian assumptions of equality and justice. And that includes a number of deeply Catholic countries (Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal). Even Ireland and Colombia are taking early steps towards legalizing gay marriage.

And yet Christian fundamentalists would rather stand with North Korea and Iran. 

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