This glossary of terms relating to the political and social context of the French same sex marriage and parenting legislation will be added to as and when references appear in the articles...
ART: “Assisted Reproductive Technology”, in French: l’Aide Médical à la Procréation (AMP). An umbrella term covering all the medical techniques used to facilitate the fertilisation of women’s eggs by sperm. This includes artificial insemination, in vitro fertilisation (IVF), intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), sperm and egg donation and storage. In the context of same sex couples, it is important that the term be differentiated from what is loosely called “fertility treatment” in English. If a lesbian couple seeks ART, for example, it is clearly not necessarily because the prospective mother has a medical fertility problem. In France, it is currently possible, but difficult, for a single woman to get ART with a sperm donation. Same sex couples are excluded.
Badinter, Robert: The first Minister for Justice under President François Mittérand who is best known for his support for the abolition of the death penalty in France, which he succeeded in seeing passed into law on 9th October 1981. His speech in the National Assembly on the subject is published and widely read and studied in France.
Civitas: A fundamentalist Catholic Royalist movement seeking generally to “rechristianise France” and more specifically to reintroduce Church Law and a Catholic Monarchy.
Communitarianism: A commonly used (usually pejorative) term in French republican politics, communautarisme refers to a perceived desire or tendency for minority communities (ethnic, religious, cultural or based upon sexual orientation etc.) to claim a level of political autonomy or to seek excemption from normal laws and rules in such a way as to threaten the homogeneous notion of republican solidarity. It is most often used in racial contexts as a way of distancing the French social model of “integration” from the supposed “anglo-saxon” model of multiculturalism. It goes beyond questions of ethnicity, however, and is also applied to the so-called “gay community”. The desire of politicians and commentators across party boundaries to avoid such a suggestion is probably behind the renaming of the “Gay marriage” bill (i.e. a bill for a single “community”) as the “Marriage for all” bill.
Dalida: Flamboyant French-Italian singer and actress born in Cairo. She shot to fame in the mid 1950s on the back of her first hit single “Bambino” and has remained an almost mythical larger-than-life figure in French popular culture since her death, thanks in no small part to her status as a gay icon.
Frigide Barjot: Stage name of comedian, singer and right wing political commentator, Virginie Tellenne. She is well-known in France for her light-hearted attempts to popularise support for Pope Benedict XVI and opposition to gay marriage.
Loi Taubira: French “memorial” law passed on the 10th May 2001, which denounces as “crimes against humanity” slavery and specifically the African and Asian slave trades of the European empires from the fifteenth century onward. It is named after Socialist Christine Taubira who, at the time, was the députée for the first district of French Guyana and who is now the Minister for Justice responsible for presenting the government's legislative programme to the National Assembly. French laws are often named after the ministers or députés who propose them in this way.
Mamère, Noël: Mayor of Bègles, near Bordeaux, and député for the 3rd district of the Gironde area of South West France. He is famous as the first mayor to officiate at a same sex wedding on June 5th 2004. The marriage was nullified by the regional court on July 27th, a decision that has been upheld by rulings of various national and international appeal courts. Originally a Socialist Party member he has been a representative of the Green Party (EELV) since 1993.
Mariage pour tous: Rather than mariage gay, the standard term in the French media for extending marriage rights to same sex couples has become the more inclusive ‘marriage for all’, associated with the legislation. The fact that the word mariage can also mean the ceremony (a ‘wedding’) allows commentators to refer, for example, to a salon du mariage pour tous : both ‘a marriage for all exhibition’ and ‘a wedding fair for everyone’.
Marianne: The name traditionally given to the female icon of the French Republic. The depiction of Marianne most widely recognised both within France and beyond is as the bare-breasted revolutionary embodiment of Liberty sporting a tricolore and a Phrygian cap in the Delacroix painting “Liberty Leading the People”
le Marais: An area of central Paris on the right bank of the Seine which is known for its large and culturally influential gay population.
Meetic: The largest and most successful French online dating agency founded in 2001 by Marc Simoncini. It runs subsidiaries in most major European countries under the names MatchAffinity, Partner and Lexamore. It was criticised in the 2009 book Eloge de l'amour (Paris, Flammarion) by philosopher Alain Badiou for propagating a false ideological notion of love as something you can “find” after a “search”.
PACS (Pacte civil de solidarité): the French civil partnership which gives a legal basis to a partnership between two adults (of any gender). Unlike the English and Scottish models of civil partnership, it is fairly common for heterosexual couples to enter into a PACS and then to get married later. The fact that this happens (and is obviously not possible for same sex couples) seems to support the portrayal of the system as unfairly two-tiered. It also offers only very minor financial benefits and safeguards and offers little or nothing in terms of inheritance or the right to be identified as the partner’s next of kin.
Phrygian cap: the short pointed (usually red) hat associated with French revolutionaries. It is the hat worn by the female icon Marianne in the official emblem of the French Republic.
Plenary adoption (and simple adoption): where English law distinguishes between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ adoption (the former being an unusual form in which all parties have access to information about the others), French law distinguishes between adoption simple and adoption plénière. ‘Simple adoption’ allows the biological (or other previous) parent(s) to share some of the parental rights and responsibilities with the adoptive parents, whereas ‘plenary adoption’ terminates the legal association between the child and the previous parent(s).
Têtu: Major gay and lesbian magazine in France which, despite having a title which literally means “Stubborn”, actually has a fairly moderate editorial line and a broad quasi-mainstream readership. It has been strongly campaigning for the LGBT marriage and parenthood bill and received a letter from the president in January suggesting that assisted reproduction for same sex couples would be covered in the legislation.
Veil, Simone: Minister for Health in the government of Prime Minister Jacques Chirac under the presidency of Valérie Giscard d'Estaing, she is best known for giving her name to the French Abortion Act (IVG – interruption volontaire de grossesse: “voluntary interruption of pregnancy”) which was passed on 17th January 1975.