The moment is finally here. This week, the French National Assembly started debate on proposed legislation that would, among other things, finally extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. That’s why another demonstration for equality was organized for Sunday afternoon, in the wake of January 13’s demonstration against it. Despite the fact that anti-equality protests have generated larger crowds than pro-equality events, a solid majority of the French support marriage equality. Adoption, though, is a more contentious issue. In any case, with a majority coalition, President Hollande’s Socialist Party is almost assured victory in enacting the proposed legislation, notwithstanding the virulent opposition that’s been expressed in often offensive terms in the streets and in the National Assembly.
As I’ve written on several occasions, this issue is of paramount importance to Michel and me. We’ve been married since July 19, 2010, but neither the French government nor the American federal government recognizes it — not yet. As a result, our right to remain together is always tenuous and is always dependent upon some other reason … school or work … but not our love and commitment to each other. Frankly, the injustice of that is an affront to our dignity as citizens of our respective counties, and it has to change. That’s why we were, once again, in the streets on Sunday afternoon: to demand our right to be recognized as the family that we are.
Sunday also happened to be the 47th anniversary of my parents’ wedding, to which I paid homage during the march. As I declared on Facebook that morning:
Today, Michel and I will be joining thousands of demonstrators under a cold rain in Paris to march once again for marriage equality. I will be marching because it’s my human right to be married to the love of my life.
I will also be marching in honor of my parent’s 47th anniversary today. I just want to celebrate the same thing one day, and I know they want that for me, too. Thank you, Mama and Daddy, for showing me what marriage means: what commitment to each other looks like, through the good times and the bad, when the road is smooth and when it’s rocky. You inspire me more than you know. Happy anniversary. I love you.
The march took about 400,000 of us from Denfert-Rochereau, along the boulevards of Paris, to Place de la Bastille. As expected, the 2.67-mile march took us about 3 hours to complete because there were so many of us. All along the route, the outpouring of support — even from the windows overlooking our route — kept us motivated and invigorated. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves marching under blue skies, even though the forecast that morning had called for gray skies and showers. I guess when your cause is just, the heavens sometimes smile down on you.
Check out this gallery of images from the march:
(Si vous apparaissez sur une photo et voudriez qu’elle soit enlevée, veuillez me contacter. Celle-ci sera supprimée immédiatement.)
To open the gallery, simply click on one of the photos below (or on a white space if nothing appears). You will then be able then scroll through all of the photos in a larger format.
P.S. — Read what happened next!
© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved