14 July 2013

Marriage De Meme N'est Pas DIsponible Pour Tous

Aujourd'hui, c'est la fete nationale francaise:  le jour de la prise de la Bastille.

If any Francophones or Francophiles are reading this, I apologize that I don't have diacritical marks on my keyboard!

Anyway, I am happy that in May, France became the fourteenth (how appropriate!) nation to legalize same-sex marriage.  Although I still think that no government should have any role in defining marriage or determining who is married (save, perhaps, for setting a minimum age limit), and that no tax or other benefits should be accorded to married couples, I think that allowing same-sex marriage is the best we can hope for in most countries.

Still, as in just about any jurisdiction that has legalized same-sex marriage, there are complications that come with France's new policy. As in most other places that sanctify same-sex unions, the complications have to do with marriage laws in other places.

Nationals of Poland, Morocco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Cambodia, Laos, Tunisia and Algeria are not covered under France's new same-sex marriage law.  So, if someone from one of those countries wanted to marry a same-sex French partner, he or she could not do so in France.  If such a couple were to marry elsewhere--say, in neighboring Belgium--their union would not be considered legal in France.

The situation stems from agreements France signed with those countries--in some cases, during the 1950's and 1960's--that said, in essence, natives of those countries could not marry in France if their unions would not be legal in their home countries.  Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco were French colonies and, like Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, have Muslim majorities or pluralities.  (The latter three countries were part of the former Yugoslavia.) Cambodia and Laos are also former colonies, while Poland--traditionally an ally of France--has long been one of the most resolutely and conservatively Roman Catholic nations.

On 29 May, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira signed a memo affirming that natives of those countries cannot enter same-sex marriages in France.  As one might expect, LGBT and human-rights groups are working to repeal the decree Taubira signed.

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