More than 300,000 protesters marched in Paris on January 13, chanting "un pere, une mere, c'est elementaire." The leaders of the movement resisting same-sex marriage and adoption in France are Frigide Barjot, a provocateur and self-described "nutty Catholic"; Xavier Bongibault, a young gay atheist who is at war with what he describes as the homophobia of the LGBT establishment; and Laurence Tcheng, a leftist outraged by the antidemocratic tactics of the Hollande government as it presses forward to redefine French laws of marriage and family.
Robert Oscar Lopez recently wrote a helpful account of the French movement on the indispensable website Public Discourse. (He also maintains a helpful blog with information about the movement at englishmanif.blogspot. com.) "History must note that France was the first country to reject the facile charge of 'homophobe' as a way of silencing people's doubts. Nobody in the U.S. has been able to break the stranglehold of threats, character assassination, and emotional blackmail that has allowed LGBT activists to call those who doubt their proposals bigots (and get them fired, incidentally)."
Lopez should know. His courageous account of being raised by a lesbian couple ("Growing Up With Two Morns," also at Public Discourse) brought him a great deal of grief. A gay rights organization emailed his colleagues at Cal State Northridge, denouncing him as a gay basher. Administrators mobilized to investigate. His crime? He had questioned LGBT orthodoxies.
There are two observations to make about the protests in France. First, American intellectuals pride themselves for being brave free-thinkers, but for the most part they're conformist. French intellectuals have a long tradition of loyalty to conscience. It's sometimes ill informed, smug, and misguided, but it's nonetheless real, and it allows the colorful leaders of the French protest movement to step out of the conventional roles assigned to "progressives." Sometimes the side you're on is wrong, and you need to have the moral courage to say so.
The second …