Yesterday, the French Constitutional Council upheld a law prohibiting gay marriage. The ruling appears to be as much about the institutional relationship between courts and legislatures in France as it is about marriage itself.
In its short decision, the Constitutional Council made two points of note. First, the bundle of family rights preserved in the French constitutional tradition does not protect same-sex couples’ right to marry. Therefore, reasoned the Council, the legislature may prohibit gay marriage and instead require same-sex couples wishing to solemnize their relationship to enter into civil unions. [paras. 7-8] Second, the Council must respect the legislature’s judgment in choosing to treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples differently. [para. 9]