I live in North Carolina, a state governed by Christian extremists who have banned gay marriage and fear that the federal government is a leftist dictatorship intent on taking away their rights. Last week, I returned to Paris for the first time in two years and, on Sunday, was fortunate enough to witness a mass demonstration—of Christian extremists who oppose gay marriage and believe that France is governed by a leftist dictatorship intent on taking away their rights.
Sunday’s gathering was the latest in a series of protests against the legalization of same-sex marriage. This one was unusual in that it occurred after President François Hollande had promulgated the legislation—known as the “Taubira law,” after Christiane Taubira, France’s justice minister—on May 17. Hollande himself had dubbed the initiative “le marriage pour tous”—“marriage for everyone.” In reply, Sunday’s event called itself a “manif pour tous”—a “demonstration for everyone.” In this way, the organizers sought capitalize on polls suggesting that a narrow majority of the French public opposes the law. They also went out of their way to present themselves as positive and inclusive, insisting, at least officially, that they were not gay-bashers. They showcased, for instance, several gay participants who favor civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples. Continue reading
Lemas Announces the Government
Nearly three and half hours behind schedule, the Elysée’s new Secretary-General, Pierre-René Lemas, announced, standing on the steps of the presidential palace, the composition of the first Ayrault government. A chaud, here are a few off-the-cuff reactions:
The new socialist government is decidedly moderate. It represents the triumph of Parti socialist’s right or centrist currents and is resolutely social democratic. The factions loyal to President Hollande himself, as well as Ségolène Royal in 2007 and the once important Dominique Strauss-Kahn, have prevailed. This is evident first of all in the choice of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault himself, who interestingly combines a traditional socialist trajectory (rural working-class background, employment as a public school teacher, youthful activism, and municipal politics) with a pragmatic, centrist outlook (with the added bonus of German language skills). The “Hollandais” did especially well: the new president’s ENA classmate Michel Sapin was given the labor ministry, his campaign spokesman Manuel Valls was rewarded with “Place Beauvau” (the interior ministry), and loyalists Jean-Yves Le Drian and Sebastien Le Foll landed defense and agriculture, respectively. Though his career is finished (and his legal troubles increasing by the day), Dominique Strauss-Kahn still managed to leave his mark on the new government: his former student and leading social democrat Pierre Moscovici will take over the finance ministry, somewhat surprisingly edging out Michel Sapin, a Hollandais who had the job back in the nineties. Continue reading
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Tagged Aubry, Ayrault, Fabius, Filippetti, Hollande, Montebourg, Moscovici, Peillon, Sapin, Taubira, Touraine, Valls