Pacte Civil de Solidarite!

File this under “Law of Unintended Consequences”:  In France, Civil Unions Gain Favor Over Marriage

Turns out, French heterosexuals have taken to civil unions in a way never anticipated by the lawmakers who intended to provide the legal protections (but mostly tax benefits) of marriage to gay couples without the, um, marriage.  Civil unions are called “pactes civil de solidarite” in French, an oddly cold and sterile phrase from a language that usually makes things sound much more romantic and sexy.  For example, my high school French teacher, the darkly handsome Monsieur Badeau, used to say to me (all the time) “Fermez la bouche!”  To which I would respond, haltingly, “Je ne comprends pas!”  and continue disrupting class with my non stop chatter.  In French, it all sounded like witty, flirty banter but in English, it often ended up with me making a trip to the principal’s office. 

According to the New York Times, for every three marriages in France today, there are two civil unions.  The article is short on reasons  why, other than to note there appears to be a generational hostility both toward religion and the concept of marriage, which is imbued with lots and lots of religious imagery and symbolism in France, I guess.   And, oh, yeah–you can dissolve a civil union just by sending a registered letter to your not-so-much-any-longer better half.  I’m thinking I had one night stands that required more effort to escape.

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