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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La loi fait une place au beau-parent

by Émilie Rive

A law to grant a role to step-parents

Translated Monday 16 March 2009, by Anatoli

FAMILY RELATIONS: A draft law on parental authority and the right of third parties has raised debate as it defines their statutory role regardless of the sexual preferences of the parents.

The President of the Republic injected himself yesterday in a lively debate during the Council of Ministers’ proceedings, raised by Christine Boutin to oppose the pre-draft of a law “related to parental authority and the right of third parties.” Candidate Sarkozy’s electoral promise regarding “a statutory role for step-parents” will be kept fairly on terms proposed by Nadine Morano, State Secretary for family matters, and Rachida Dati, Minister of Justice.

Thus, a new article 377 of the pre-draft, submitted to relevant agencies, stipulates the following: “The parents who jointly exercise parental authority may seek authentication by a judge for family affairs of an agreement by means of which they make arrangements to share, partially or in full, the exercise of the said authority with a third party.” The same legal faculty belongs to someone who exercises parental authority alone. The judge will authenticate such an agreement if it is consistent with the child’s interest and the parent or parents have given their consent freely. The point is to provide a step-parent with the possibility of taking action with respect to health, education, and fundamental rights. The wording of both articles would not give rise to any controversy — it does not mention father or mother but only parents — if Nadine Morano had not made reference in her explanatory memorandum to 30,000 children living in households consisting of two adults of the same sex, according to a census by the National Institute of Demographic Studies, among other children to whom the draft may apply. A fair reason to wake up some old demons of militants still fighting in the rear for family integrity.

They are such as Christine Boutin who has stated that “recognition in fact of the statutory role of step-parents bear a risk of implying actual recognition of homosexual parenthood and approval of homosexual couples.” Philippe de Villiers condemns the draft as “aimed at destroying the family,” nothing less. Christian Vanneste, a deputy from the UMP, is outraged by “the grave damage to the strength of family ties.” As to the FN, it speaks about a text that “ushers in any kind of deviations.” The PACS battle is not so far away. In addition, according to its underlying logic, the text would ultimately also cover PACS partners or lovers of each parent.

From the other side, the Inter-LGBT Association welcomes the first steps incorporated in this pre-draft but regrets that it does not go far enough to allow for adopting a child of the partner within a PACS couple or common-law marriage, as it is possible for married couples. The Association also regrets that the non-biological parent in a homosexual couple is still considered a third party. The Union des familles laïques makes a point that “a statutory role should be determined for step-parents... regardless of the sexual preferences of the parents who raise the child” and that “law should allow for simple adoption for a non-biological parent on the same terms as a biological parent.” At the moment the text is in the hands of the State Council for its opinion.

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