If French society is progressing as we’re told it is, legalizing gay marriage “ought to be a mere formality,” said Yves Thréard. But Socialist President François Hollande has managed to make a serious mess of it. On the campaign trail, he posed as the measure’s “most ardent defender,” which didn’t seem particularly courageous, since polls showed that most French people favor it. But now that a law is actually being drafted, we’re seeing the president’s will buckle. Last month, after tens of thousands turned out to protest against gay marriage, Hollande backed down, saying that any mayors who objected to presiding over same-sex marriages could delegate deputies to stand in for them. This has enraged critics in his own party—you can’t just let officials ignore laws they don’t like, they say—so now Hollande has distanced himself from what he told the mayors. This is hardly the first time Hollande has “made a public spectacle of his lack of conviction.” Look at how he raised the rates of value-added tax after having sworn he wouldn’t. No wonder his approval rating has halved since he took office. There are plenty of reasons to doubt whether it’s wise to legalize gay marriage, but before we can deal with that, we need a leader who knows where he stands.
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