In the Sept. 1 edition of the Morning Sentinel, a photograph showed thousands of peaceful demonstrators who had walked across France to protest the legalization of homosexual marriage in that country.

This is a puzzling event. First of all, the law had already passed, and they still protested. Second, France is known for its permissive attitude toward sex. Why is there a massive grassroots movement on this issue? In January, one million gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower to express opposition to the law. After the law passed in May, nearly 400,000 marchers let the socialist government know they had not given up the fight.

The answer to this question comes from an unlikely source. Xavier Bongibault, a prominent spokesman for the movement, identifies himself as a homosexual and an atheist.

In an interview in November, Bongibault said, “In France, marriage is not designed to protect the love between two people. French marriage is specifically designed to provide children with families.”

The French civil code is read aloud to couples during the marriage ceremony, according to an article in New Oxford Review. “The married couple ensures together the moral and material direction of the family and they provide the education of children and prepare their future,” the article said.

Reliable, longitudinal studies show time and again one crucial fact: When children are raised by their biological parents in a married relationship, they were found to fare better on dozens of indicators, and worse on none. Xavier Bongibault sees the issue clearly — the rights of children trump the emotions of adults.

Kathryn F. Swegart

Rome