French elections means LGBT rights could be coming soon to France

Socialist François Hollande has won the first round in the French presidential election. The second round will happen in a couple weeks with only the top two candidates – Hollande and current president Nicolas Sarkozy – and Hollande expected to win.

(Don’t let the party name fool you – the French Socialist party is capitalist in ideology but has kept its old name even as it moved to the right. Consider them the French equivalent of honest American progressives, along the lines of the Congressional Progressive Caucus with a few mainstream Dems thrown in because leftwing parties can never maintain purity like rightwingers can.)

Paul Krugman is cheering on an Hollande presidency because he isn’t a pro-austerity ideologue, instead a political marshmallow on questions of economics, Europe, and the Euro. My circle of friends here mostly voted for anti-liberal leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is an anti-austerity ideologue. But a mushy Euro social Democrat is still better than France’s Berlusconi/Bush.

Economics questions aside, what this means is that same-sex marriage is probably coming to France this year. French pols are better than their American counterparts when it comes to at least trying to keep campaign promises, and Hollande has already promised same-sex marriage.

He also promised to open up homoparentality. It’s an issue in France more than in the US and includes both adoption and access to reproductive technology by same-sex couples. A perennial rightwing favorite out here, that never actually passes, is a constitutional amendment not “defining” marriage as between one man and one woman but declaring a child’s “right” to a mother and a father. The idea isn’t to ban single motherhood – as if that were possible – but to keep doctors and adoption agencies from knowingly putting children in a situation where they wouldn’t have a parent of each sex.

France already has a lot tighter protections against employment discrimination than the US does that includes sexual orientation. A transgender org in France tried to get all the presidential candidates’ positions on the issues but only Hollande and Mélenchon responded. Hollande wanted to add gender identity to anti-discrimination legislation, de-pathologize transsexuality, and make the process of transitioning easier, including lifting the sterilization requirement. (Mélenchon went further and said he wants government health care to cover transition-related expenses. The Green candidate and other leftists – as well as the entire right – didn’t even respond.)

The French president doesn’t have a veto, but does have the power to directly propose legislation in the parliament. The fact that the parliament’s lower house is currently right-wing would seriously limit Hollande’s power, but their elections are going to happen the first weekend of June.


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