France's Socialist-led government is preparing legislation to introduce a "contract of social union" that will give homosexual or heterosexual couples living together, the legal rights currently enjoyed by married people. Michel Pinton, the former secretary-general of the large Union for French Democracy party (UDF) and now mayor of the small village of Felletin in central France, sent letters in March to France's 36,000 mayors asking them to voice their opposition to the plan, because they would be asked to officiate at these "weddings," and up to 12,000 have done so.
"In our sick French society, the two things that are still healthy, the family and the town council, are now being threatened by a catastrophic weakness," he wrote. "It may be that this new form of marriage, which you will have to officiate at, clashes with your conscience."
The organizers of the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage responded with a threat to sue Pinton. "He is being very dishonest as well as homophobic," organizer Jan-Paul Pouliquen told Reuters News Service. "We are not talking about gay marriage ceremonies with vows, but a simple contract to be signed at the town hall in front of any council official."
Ironically regarding France's immediate neighbor Luxembourg, the US Senate is facing a contentious vote as it returns from its Easter recess over sending the United States' first openly homosexual ambassador to that predominantly Catholic country.
James Hormel is President Clinton's nominee to be ambassador to the tiny, European nation of Luxembourg, which is 97 percent Catholic, and was the only foreign relations nominee not acted upon at the end of last year's session. Three Republican senators, expressing concern that he would use the post to promote a homosexual agenda and offend Catholics, put "holds" on the nomination, effectively freezing it. But before leaving for the Easter recess, 42 Democrats sent Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, a letter supporting the nomination and urging a vote.
Hormel, a 64-year-old San Francisco businessman, Democratic Party contributor, and heir to the Hormel Meat Co. fortune, received unanimous Senate confirmation last May for another post, as an alternate to the US delegation to the UN General Assembly. His current nomination also received approval for a full Senate vote last November with 16-2 vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Family Research Council voiced its opposition to the nomination citing Hormel's financial support for a documentary aimed at educators that promotes homosexual lifestyles and his leadership of a 1996 "gay pride" parade in San Francisco in which he lauded homosexuals dressed as nuns. FRC president Gary Bauer, citing Luxembourg as a Catholic country, said "appointing an ambassador who shows nothing but contempt for certain groups of believers should offend every American who believes in the Constitution."