Thursday, January 17, 2013

The letter from the editor of Elle in Paris supporting gay marriage but raising red flags on adoption, surrogacy, and insemination

[I will translate this later tonight, it's a very powerful letter. The editor says that marriage makes sense but that the real divisions over adoption, surrogacy, and insemination are not matters to be reduced to platitudes. She calls ultimately for a robust debate and wants to see "General Estates" debates on the matter of children. The English-speaking press that ran quick stories saying she rubberstamped gay marriage have it all wrong! Bravo! A superb statement from Elle. -- ROL]

Valerie Toranian, editor of Elle

[Translation by ROL]

The powerful shows of force by opponents of gay marriage in France  on Sunday, January 13, have one undeniable virtue: They remind us that family is not a traditional value, but rather a modern passion. We compose and blend family, building it with children resulting from successive loves. The family frustrates us, galvanizes us, structures us. So it is hardly shocking that the subject infuriates people, as well as drawing deep divisions. Sixty percent of the French are partisans for gay marriage. True to a campaign promise of François Hollande, the government will vote on a gay marriage bill. It is logical in the history of our society,  whose foundations of today descend from a tradition of individual liberty and equality before the law.  The fight for women's rights were inscribed and continue to be inscribed in this march of history. Today, we cannot see why, in the name of certain values, the State would not allow to people of the same sex to form a civil union.

If the passions are unleashed today it is not really about gay love, but about family. Some parents would be, effectively, only partially biological but fully the caretakers, of children with two mothers or two fathers.  What matters more to us -- the biology, the symbolism, or who teaches the child? That it is why it is so important that moral personalities and intellectuals, even religious ones, express themselves in this complex debate about adoption, surrogacy, and insemination. In this case the debate is not ancient versus modern, right and left, homophobes and progressives: there are gay catholics, there are lefties like right-wingers ferociously attached to the symbolism of different sexes and to a necessary amount of difference in the raising of a child. Some feminists fight hard for insemination but not for surrogacy because they denounce the commodification of women's bodies. Others still fight for surrogacy which is well-thought out, ethical, and not based on contractual obligation.

Among Elle's editors, if yes to marriage seems the majority, the question of insemination, surrogacy, and adoption, how these things affect transient mothers, gives us pause and splits us. One thing brings us together: the conscience that these discussions that affect the female body deserve a long debate, including in the columns of our magazine. Worried about not swelling the ranks of bickerers, the government chose to separate insemination from the issue of marriage. It was a wise choice. But we must go further. We must not above all rush to put these things into law this spring, as was initially called for. There is a range of things to talk about -- ethics, science, law, which needs an open debate among competing viewpoints. Please, call for an Estates General for Babies. We owe that to the children of tomorrow, to those who will make children of tomorrow, and those who will raise them. Meanwhile, for better or for worse, long live the wives of 2013!