PARIS, FEB. 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- France's Constitutional Council decided last month that any change to the nation's ban on same-sex "marriage" should come from lawmakers, not judges.It is this type of decision that defenders of marriage in the United States and elsewhere have wanted to see in legal battles over the issue, such as the high-profile debate in California on Proposition 8.
A judge shouldn't be deciding the fate of marriage over and above majority opinion, these advocates say.
France's Constitutional Council agrees. In a ruling handed down Jan. 28, it declared that the present prohibition of homosexual marriage is in keeping with the country's constitution.
"According to French law, marriage is the union of a man and a woman," it states. The council went on the affirm that it is lawmakers, not the judges, who would need to change the law.
"It does not correspond to the Constitutional Council to substitute its opinion for that of the lawmaker [...] in this matter," stated the ruling.
The decision naturally disappointed the lesbian couple that was seeking the right to marry.
The question now is what will happen next. The council decision could be interpreted as an invitation to lawmakers to legislate and modify French law.
François de Lacoste Lareymondie, vice president of the Association pour la Fondation de service politique, said that an initial reaction to the council decision could be positive. But, he cautioned, it is to be expected that a move will soon be made in Parliament in favor of recognizing homosexual marriage. If that were to pass, Lareymondie suggested, the Constitutional Council will not censure this law, but will approve it given that it has already virtually committed itself to do so.
So-called gay-rights groups have already indicated the same. In response to the Constitutional Council decision, counsel for the SOS Homophobie associations, Caroline Mecary, said that it is probably necessary "to wait for an alternative policy in 2012, so that the parties of the Left, which are favorable to the opening of marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, initiate a reform."
The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Portugal and Iceland permit same-sex "marriage" in Europe.