French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira’s Speech to the National Assembly after the passage of the bill opening marriage and adoption to same-sex couples
Mister President, Mister Prime Minister, Congresswomen and Congressmen,
I must admit that I am overwhelmed by emotion. Still, I hope that I’ll be able to say a few words. I am extremely thankful to the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic for giving us the opportunity to pass this beautiful reform. We passed it with force. We passed it with the constant support of the government. We passed it with your active participation. You all improved this bill. You enriched it. You were there during the long nights of debate. You were there. You were stoic, sometimes in the face of hateful speeches that were against our deeply held values. But there were also great and beautiful expressions of democracy. In the opposition, we had speeches from congresspeople who fought against this bill and who made their firm objections known through their arguments. We are grateful to them as well, because their objections will also be recorded by history.
In passing this law, we know that we built something together. We know that we did not take anything away from anyone. When the first signs of dissent sprung up in society, we asked ourselves questions. We asked ourselves if our beliefs were enough. We attentively listened to the fears and protests of the opposition. We responded. Lucidly. Clearly. Frankly. And we pointed them towards the content of the bill. We asked ourselves what the most precious things in the lives of heterosexual couples and their families are. And we did not touch those things.
That said, we have improved the exercise of parental authority. We have made it easier to share parental authority. We have protected thousands of children. We have made it easier to maintain the link between children and their parents in the case of conflict between the parents, even outside of the institution of marriage. We have made it easier for future brides and grooms to choose the location of their marriage.
We know that we have not taken anything away from anyone. On the contrary, we have recognized the full rights of our fellow citizens, whose rights were being surreptitiously undermined.
We have granted full rights to all couples.
Without any doubt, the bill that we have passed today is a generous bill. And we are so very thankful.
We also know that we must speak to the men and the women who were hurt in this process by words, gestures or actions. We know that we must tell them that they are fully a part of this society. We know that the responsibility of our public power is to fight against discrimination. Our Republic demands this. Fighting against discrimination means opening equal rights to all of our fellow citizens. It means sharing one of our Republic’s most beautiful institutions with our fellow citizens.
Tonight, we would especially like to speak to the adolescents in our country – boys and girls – who have been hurt during this debate. We speak to those children who found themselves in the midst of deep and frightening chaos. They discovered a society where a wave of selfishness led many to loudly protest against the rights of others.
We simply want to tell these adolescents that they are at home in our society.
We recognize them in this society. We recognize their contradictions, talents, shortcomings, qualities and fragility. These are the things that make each and every one of us unique. Regardless of any sexual issues, each one of us is unique. That is the strength of our society. It is even the basis of our society. It is the basis of our relationship to society. So we tell these adolescents: if you find yourself losing hope, sweep all of those thoughts out of your minds. They are only words. One day they will float away. Stay with us and keep your heads high. You have nothing to be ashamed of. We say that loud and clear, with our all the strength in our voices. As Nietzsche said: Truth kills. And if you repress it, it will kill you.
Thank you all.
Translated from French by Joseph McShea