French comedian rallies broad front against gay marriage

Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:40am EST
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - When the opponents of gay-marriage take to the streets in Paris on Sunday, their protest will be led neither by politicians nor priests, but by a sassy comedian in a pink T-shirt who goes by the stage name Frigide Barjot.

With her on the march, expected to be one of the capital's biggest demonstrations in years, will be a young gay man who campaigns against homosexual marriage and an older activist from the right-to-life movement.

Notably absent will be most religious leaders who set the tone for the opposition with talking points based on social and legal arguments rather than appeals to faith.

"We're all born of a man and a woman, but the law will say the opposite tomorrow," says Barjot, warning the reform would break links between father, mother and children that ground human society. "It will say a child is born of a man and a man."

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the Catholic Church here, will go to greet some protesters but not march. Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, whose position paper won praise even from Pope Benedict, has no plan to join the demonstration either.

"We've coordinated this demonstration neither with the Church nor with the parishes," Barjot, a slim 50-year-old in tight jeans and spike heel boots, told journalists on Thursday.

Asked if the hierarchy could take over the movement, she protested that she was in charge. "If I'm the Catholic Church, the Vatican will have to review its code of canon law," she said. "I'm not a bishop and I'm not ready to become one."

Organizers have declined to estimate the size of the crowd, expected in the hundreds of thousands, but say about 900 buses and five trains have been reserved to bring marchers from the provinces to join the Paris protest.   Continued...

French humorist and TV host Virginie Merle, also known as "Frigide Barjot" poses after a news conference in Paris, January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau