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30/11/12 Laurence Tcheng analyse les auditions... by LaManifPourTous
This was broadcast on November 30, 2012. Laurence Tcheng is one third of the leadership of Manif pour Tous, and president of the Left for Republican Marriage.
Announcer: This afternoon, the leadership charged with representing France's major religions appeared for a hearing about the gay marriage bill. Each was given ten minutes to speak. There was Cardinal André 23 for the Catholics, Claude Boitie of course for the Protestants, Metropoli Josephe for the Orthodox Church, Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, [someone] to represent France's Muslims, the President of the Buddhist Union of France. This was a hearing that was quite heavy in proposals and aggression, with elected officials particularly attuned to the dictates of the Catholic Church. With the interjection of the mobilized Catholics, and with the deputy assigned to interface with religious leaders saying, "I call upon you to make an effort to deal intellectually with all of this." In the face of all this, the religious leaders tried to present calmly some evidence that resistance to gay marriage is not primarily a religious front. There are varying reasons to resist gay marriage for social, cultural, and anthropological reasons. We will listen to some clips.
Cardinal 23 (Catholic): Whatever the legislators consider their agenda to be, partners of the same sex will continue to have no access to procreation unless one of them is bisexual. Therefore the identity of their situation as a marriage will remain forever impossible. Is it fair to lead them to believe that legislation can actually erase their differences? In the end, who will remain disappointed and unsatisfied?
Bernheim (Jewish): I do not oppose equality as long as equality is not forcing a modification in the definition of marriage. Yes, it's the definition of marriage that is going to be changed here. It is not the right of man, woman, or straight or gay couples, that is going to be changed here. We have to consider, what will be the effect of this change to marriage? Is this going to create a mechanical nightmare that later we will be unable to stop?
Announcer: So now, on our soundstage, we have Laurence Tcheng, representative of the leftist opposition to gay marriage, spokeswoman for Manif for All. We also have Louis Daufresne, the director and editor of Radio Notre Dame (a Parisian broadcaster with a Catholic mission). Since you both attended the hearings, I want your opinion. Is the debate that we were promised underway, or is there really no debate at all? Tell us what you think.
Louis: This is not a debate at all. It was merely a questioning. It demurs and puts on a different mask, perhaps. The problem is simple. We need to know, who can criticize this? Who has that right? They pose a question and we have to wonder, okay, who's allowed to criticize gay marriage? So then you see the answer. Debate is impossible here. Someone asks a question and they spit out the answer mechanically instantly. All you can do is ask, who's holding the reigns of this system, it's so mechanical, the questions and answers.
Announcer: Laurence, you claim to represent the left in all this. Is this working? What say you?
Laurence: [...] We do not have the necessary conditions for democratic debate here. For something so important, we call for a general state vote. The call from homosexuals for their concessions is very important to consider, but we must have the right answer for them.
Announcer: Well, you say that there's no debate conditions. But there's a court reporter, the deputy, and time allotted for hearings. What went wrong?
Laurence: Well first, the time allotted was shortened. The hearings were not designed to be impartial and did not accommodate conflicting viewpoints. I provide one example. In the hearing for jurists, there were six jurists who supported the law, and the deputy could not scrounge up two who opposed it. But we know there were 350 who signed a petition.
Announcer: Before what seems the government's desire not to listen to you, would you say that the government is inflexible and won't change its mind at this point?
Laurence: Our determination is just as inflexible. We represent a range: Frigide Barjot, the Catholic, and Xavier Bongibault, the gay founder of "gayer without marriage," and me, the left for a republican marriage law. We rallied 300,000 opponents of the bill -- 200,000 in Paris, and 100,000 in Provence. We presented a public profile that was peaceful, diverse, and united, across faiths, political parties, etc.
Announcer: The deputies in charge of the hearings have dismissed the legitimacy of street protest as a way to give voice. But it is precisely because of the representation for all of France that he belongs to the government. Isn't it on the street that the reflection over this law is supposed to take place?
Louis: Well the deputies are ashamed to admit what they're about to do. I am not afraid to say it. They are going to vote by party, not for their conscience. If they vote their conscience, they will lose their job, their investments, everything that makes up their lifestyle. They are not free to vote as they would. The power of the left over this process has turned into the terror of the inquisition at this point. I am not exaggerating the strength of the adversary here. When you listen to Cardinal 23, even though the left as you say is not united, notice how they won't debate him. Why? They know they will lose.
Announcer: According to polls, the feeling is very strong [at this point, the polls pointed toward approving of the law, but that's changed by now -- ROL].
Louis: But wait. [I am summarizing here--ROL] The polls are tricky. People haven't heard all sides. Once we are able to present a full case to the public, it can change. The sacredness of the church is a powerful force in this question, trust me. Think of how the Catholics can mobilize quickly. I hate to pound the Catholic message but in schools, think: 2.6 million students. We're talking about how the Catholic church can send out a powerful message, very clear, including through schools, to launch the debate.
Announcer: At the same time, both the cardinal and the Grand Rabbi have stressed that this is not a case of religions combatting the National Assembly. There are other forces beyond Catholics to mobilize, right, Laurence?
Laurence: As Louis says, we come across many deputies who will say privately that they do not wish to vote for the bill, but they must vote as a bloc. On such a central matter, that's unacceptable. It's the ideology of power running them, not the courage nor intellectual honesty.
Announcer: Is that why you keep saying that it falls upon street protest to apply pressure? That's why you are inviting everyone to take to the streets?
Laurence: [I'm summarizing--ROL] Yes, our point is that we want Hollande to yank out all these ministers and appointees and listen to the people on January 13, 2013, when we mobilize.