President Nicolas Sarkozy gestures as he gives a speech during his visit at Arcelor Mittal Gandrange site, in Metz, eastern France, on February 4, 2008. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, earlier last month announced plans to cut 595 of the 1,108 jobs at Gandrange by April 2009. Photo by Christophe Guibbaud/ABACAPRESS.COM

Same-sex marriage is an issue in the election campaign for the French Presidency, which puts the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, against the Socialist leader, François Hollande. In a wide-ranging interview in the leading newspaper Le Figaro, President Sarkozy explained why he opposes it.

Le Figaro: Do you support gay marriage?

I’m not in favour of it. I proposed in 2007 civil unions. We have not implemented it because we realized that it was unconstitutional to open this contract only to homosexuals. The civil union would have undermined the institution of marriage. However, I made sure that homosexuals were guaranteed the same benefits in terms of inheritance and taxation as married couples, but as part of the Pacte Civil de Solidarité. In these troubled times when our society needs benchmarks, I do not think we should blur the image of this vital social institution of marriage.

Le Figaro: And how about adoption by same-sex couples?

This is one of the reasons I am not in favour of gay marriage. It would open the door to adoption. I know there are in fact special situations with men and women who fulfil their parenting role perfectly well. But these do not lead me to think that we should enshrine in law a new definition of family.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.