“La Fiancée de Frankenstein”

Once upon a time, in a land called America, some angry old men got together and decided that the only way they could guarantee their party’s future at the ballot box was by inking the proverbial deal with the devil.

Their party was the GOP, and their devil wrapped itself in the mantle of God.

Fast forward to today.

While the leadership of the Republican party is still controlled by the far right, there’s been a schism of sorts between the fiscally-conservative Tea Party and the religiously-conservative party of God.

Republicans have found that their courtship of America’s religious right has created a tolerance gap in the mind of the voters between the GOP and Democrats.

Jerry Falwell.

Jerry Falwell.

And party leaders are now concerned that the perception of Republicans as angry and intolerant may doom their chances at taking back the White House for years to come.

Colin Powell, for example, recently lamented the Republican party’s “vein of intolerance.”

And GOP Senator Lindsey Graham went even farther when he declared that the Republicans were facing a “demographic death spiral” from the party’s alienation of Latinos, but also other minorities, like gays, and women.

Take the gay marriage debate.

Have you heard any Republican, outside of the religious right or Ted Cruz, seriously take on marriage equality lately at the federal level? While Republicans at the state level have pulled out all the stops in an attempt to stop gays and lesbian from attaining their civil rights, at the national level the party has developed a severe case of political laryngitis.

And even at the state level, such as in Arizona recently, where Republicans passed a Citizens United type legislation directed at gays, the local GOP quickly relented when even Fox News criticized the party’s anti-gay plans as “Jim Crow for homosexuals.”

France is about to eat its own crow. The country is currently run by a socialist president by the name of François Hollande. Among Hollande’s many campaign promises was the nationwide legalization of same-sex unions, and in 2013 he accomplished just that.

France's first married gay couple.

France’s first married gay couple.

France has two main political parties (though there are many others). The right-wing UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), and the left-wing Socialist Party. And while the Socialist Party would be pretty left-wing for Americans, the UMP, as described by my French friends on the right, is more like America’s Democrats.

But lately, the UMP has been acting a lot more like American Republicans.

You see, the UMP has decided that the way to win its way back into the halls of power is by embracing, and empowering, France’s religious right; and specifically, promoting a nationwide platform of homophobia.

France’s conservatives, in a cry led by former President Sarkozy, are now talking of repealing the right of gay couples to marry in that country. This is part of a larger rapprochement between the UMP and France’s nascent religious right.

"La Fiancée de Frankenstein." Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and religious right leader Frigide Barjot.

“La Fiancée de Frankenstein.” Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and religious right leader Frigide Barjot.

To appreciate how big of a deal this is, you have to remember that France, like most of western Europe, isn’t terribly religious. So the notion of involving religion in politics, let alone a major political party embracing such heresy, is alien to the French. Until now.

After it became clear that France was on the inevitable road towards legalizing gay marriage, the country’s religious right (a combination of the Catholic church, and a small group of extreme religious conservatives operating in cahoots with American religious right leaders), launched a series of violent protesters, which included both anti-semites and neo-nazis.

And you know who else played a lead role in the organized national homophobia? France’s UMP political party, and the man who wants to be its future leader, former President Sarkozy, who railed this weekend about his plans to rip the civil and human rights away from France’s gay and lesbian citizens.

(Sarkozy is an unlikely defender of marriage and the family, as he’s currently on his third of each. “Liberté, Égalité, Divorcé”?)

Whether in the end America’s religious right gave the UMP the crazy idea that cozying up to homophobes was la bonne politique, or whether Sarkozy and France’s “Democrats” came up with the terrible idea all by themselves, it’s a fool’s errand.

At a time when America’s conservatives have learned all too late that intolerance is no longer a ticket to higher office, and the world is increasingly embracing gay people and their rights, it’s beyond bizarre that a country that owns the patent on “love” would look to imitate Moscow when it comes to human rights.

The France I know is better than this.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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15 Responses to ““La Fiancée de Frankenstein””

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    You could ask the same question of AFL-CIO leaders who support Democrats.

  2. wmforr says:

    Do the Muslims joining the protests realize that the Right will turn on them when it is convenient?

  3. wmforr says:

    Frigide Barjot. Does the lady realize how funny her name is, particularly given the context of marital rights? Sounds like a very unsexy take-off on Brigitte Bardot or a drag queen. But then everything about Manif pour Tous looks like satire.

  4. Ryan says:

    There is no divide between Tea Party Republicans and religious conservatives. They are just two faces of the same demographic. The Republican divide is between the Tea Party/religious conservative wing that demands purity and the establishment/business wing that cares about winning elections and not hurting the bottom line.

  5. BeccaM says:

    Fascist authoritarian movements always require minority group scapegoats, ideally those who’ve been violently repressed in the past.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    I know about England where the question is sharpened by the rabid racism of the BNP and UKIP, much like racism of Action Française and the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands in Germany exacerbates
    racist tensions there.

    My question was about France, where it seems the secularism of French culture has made heavy inroads against islamist intolerance, just as it has against christer intolerance. The same is pattern is true for the US.

  7. emjayay says:

    My impression was that there were a lot of Muslims involved in the French anti-gay marriage protests. Being anti-gay fits in with the extreme patriarchal views of many Muslims and of course there have been many incidents of anti-gay violence by Muslims in Europe. The daily mail report you quote is pretty interesting and hopeful and yes, I realize that there are also many Muslims who do not share these views.

    I found the same stuff you did when I actually searched, and also found this from the Guardian from 2009 which is pretty interesting (edited):

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/may/07/muslims-britain-france-germany-homosexuality

    Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance towards homosexual acts compared to their counterparts in France and Germany, according to a survey published today.

    The Gallup poll features the results of telephone and face-to-face interviews with Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK, France and Germany and is designed to measure global attitudes towards people from different faith traditions.

    It shows that British Muslims hold more conservative opinions towards homosexual acts, abortion, viewing pornography, suicide and sex outside marriage than European Muslims, polling markedly lower when asked if they believed these things were morally acceptable.

    The most dramatic contrast was found in attitudes towards homosexuality. None of the 500 British Muslims interviewed believed that homosexual acts were morally acceptable. 1,001 non-Muslim Britons were interviewed.

    By comparison, 35% of French Muslims found homosexual acts to be acceptable. A question on pornography also elicited different reactions, with French and German Muslims more likely than British Muslims to believe that watching or reading pornography was morally acceptable.

    On the issue of sexual relations between unmarried men and women, general populations surveyed express similar views, with the majority believing it was acceptable. But the Muslim populations polled again reflected greater diversity on the matter. French Muslims ranked highest again, with 48% believing it was acceptable, followed by 27% of German Muslims responding favourably. British Muslims came last, with only 3% of those questioned personally believing that sex between unmarried men and women was moral. There was a similar outcome when asked for their views on extra-marital affairs.

    .

  8. Houndentenor says:

    Pandering to prejudice and bigotry is often a winning strategy for the GOP. It doesn’t surprise me that right-wing parties in other countries would imitate something that keeps working in the US.

  9. Indigo says:

    Exactly.

  10. I’d not heard that they played any significant role. This was mostly the Catholic church, the UMP, and Frigide and her band.

  11. Don Chandler says:

    Religion wasn’t a big deal in the former Soviet Union. But it has resurfaced in Russia to Putin’s benefit. I read the Russian Orthodox Church loves it’s elevated role in Mother Russia. With strong armed Putin escalating his invasion of Ukraine and a resurgence of right wing nationalism in Europe…well…anything is possible.

  12. Bill_Perdue says:

    I know. Remember these.

  13. Bill_Perdue says:

    I don’t know about ‘most of France’s substantial Muslim population” but at least 50 islamists did and they’re bound to have some support. ‘(Reuters) – French Muslims have begun joining a mostly Catholic-led movement against same-sex marriage, widening opposition to the reform that the Socialist-led government is set to write into the law by June.

    Fifty Muslim activists issued an open letter on Monday urging fellow Muslims to join a major Paris protest against the law on Sunday. That followed a similar appeal last Saturday by the influential Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF). Fifty is a lot but not most. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/uk-france-marriage-muslim-idUKBRE9060IX20130107

    Did you find a poll of French muslims? I looked but didn’t see one. Some data would be helpful because I know that our muslim brothers and sisters face an uphill battle, just as we did after Clinton and the Democrats threw us under the bus signing DOMA, followed by the Bush/Rove Republican attacks and Obama denouncing marriage equality in the middle of the fight over Prop 8.

    Not everything is going the bigots way. “France to open world’s first ‘mosque for the gay
    community’ – Gay activist hopes to open ‘gay mosque’ A French-Algerian homosexual man is planning to open a ‘mosque for gays’ in France and hopes to eventually conduct same-sex Muslim marriages. – Mohammed Ludovic Lütfi Zahed, an Algerian Muslim living in Paris who is married to his gay partner, hopes to open the doors by the end of the month, according to the Jerusalem Post. Mr Zahed says the mosque, situated in a Buddhist chapel in Paris, will also break another Islamic taboo by refusing to segregate women and men.”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239753/France-open-worlds-mosque-gay-community.html

  14. Indigo says:

    Yes, well, the America I know is better than this too . . . oh, wait . . . things change but not always for the better. After all, the Wiemar Republic was better and then . . . boom!

  15. emjayay says:

    I think John forgot to mention the anti-gay stance of most of France’s substantial Muslim population in the gay marriage issue.

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