It’s been a big weekend for civil rights here in France. If you’ve followed our news lately, you’re certainly familiar with the movement known as “Mariage pour tous” (“Marriage for All”). It’s the popular name for a legislative initiative to open marriage to same-sex couples and extend adoption rights to us. After months of vigorous debate and sometimes violent opposition, it was adopted this spring by the National Assembly and the Senate. Opponents immediately challenged the law’s constitutionality before the French Constitutional Council — the equivalent of the Supreme Court in the United States — and we waited for the ruling with a mix of hope and anxiety. Continue reading Goin’ to the chapel … the city hall … a meadow?
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. Continue reading Love knows no boundaries.
Sunday, December 16 was a big day in the streets of Paris.
It was the day of …
La Manifestation pour l’Égalité
The March for Equality
About a month ago, I posted an article here about the current debate in France over marriage equality and other family rights for LGBT persons. The government of President François Hollande had just announced a proposed law that would open civil marriage to same-sex couples, and the reaction was quick and malicious. Less than two weeks after the announcement, the opposition took to the streets in Paris and other French cities and — spouting blatant lies and disgusting innuendo about people like me — made their minority view very much heard. The demonstration in Paris even turned physically violent in the face of counter-protest. It was enough to sadden us and anger us … but it was also enough to motivate us to take to the streets ourselves on Sunday afternoon to make our voices heard. Continue reading Marchons, marchons
Photo: At our wedding, July 19, 2010
We just experienced a disturbing weekend here in France. I didn’t see anything negative firsthand but, despite being insulated in my bubble with Michel, I was well aware that forces were mobilizing against us. Both Saturday and Sunday, opponents of marriage equality — ginned up primarily by the Vatican and its conservative allies in France — took to the streets of Paris and several other cities to demonstrate against proposed laws that would grant marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. If enacted, these laws will finally bring France in line with other Western European democracies like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. If defeated, same-sex couples in France will remain second-class citizens in their own country.
To be honest, it’s been difficult to follow the news since Saturday; I even get anxious when Michel brings the subject up or when I see something about it in my Facebook newsfeed. Continue reading It’s time.
I’ve been wanting to write about this French expression for a while now, and I finally have the occasion!
Nuit blanche is the French expression for an “all-nighter” — literally “white night.” It refers to a night when you don’t sleep at all, and it could result from any of several reasons — including, importantly for a student, staying up all night cramming for a test. But for most French, I suspect, a nuit blanche is associated with partying all night long!
<cue Lionel Ritchie>
Since 2002, “La Nuit Blanche” has been used to refer to an annual all-night arts festival in Paris. Every October, the city’s museums, art galleries, and cultural centers open to the public free of charge for an entire night. In fact, the City of Light truly lives up to its nickname by turning itself into an outdoor art gallery with performance spaces and art installations all over the place. The history of La Nuit Blanche is long, but it seems to have been inspired initially by Helsinki’s 1989 “Night of the Arts” and the subsequent wave of such nocturnal arts festivals across Europe. You can click here for some of the history of La Nuit Blanche, and here for a guide to Paris’s most recent festivities on October 6 of this year.
My nuit blanche this week was just a bit different, though …
Photo: US Airways 787 © 2012 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved
It was the first time that my husband and I had traveled across the Atlantic together: US Airways 787 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Charlotte Douglas International on Saturday. Michel has visited me in the United States before, of course: the first time was in December 2009 to meet my friends and family, and the second time was in July 2010, when we got married before my departure for France. But Saturday was a particularly interesting travel day: Jean Reno and a jackass immigrant officer at CDG, an obnoxious flight attendant with an apple and a pear, and a surprisingly warm welcome at immigration control in Charlotte. Continue reading Jean Reno, apples & pears, and my French husband