French Dictionary Literally Changes the Definition Of "Marriage"

While same-sex marriage is not quite legal in France, the premier French dictionary Larousse agreed during Senate debates on Wednesday to amend its definition of the word "marriage" to "a solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union." While France's pro-LGBT community sees this as a necessary and important change, several members of Parliament are disputing the decision.

"It's incredible, this is not normal, the law has not passed yet. I'm a member of parliament, I believe in what I do, and I find it incredible," said Laurent Wauquiez, vice president of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) political party. "I studied politics and social sciences from [Larousse's] books. I can't believe they are doing this."

When François Hollande was elected president in 2012, he assured citizens that legalizing same-sex marriage was on his agenda. A member of the Socialist Party, whose relationship with the UMPs is akin to the U.S. Democratic Party's with the Republican Party, Hollande has been criticized since his election amid allegations of corruption and the country's rising unemployment. The same-sex marriage debates began last week, flocked by protesters, and this victory for Hollande as the proposition moves forward is angering many dissenters.

But Larousse's decision, it seems, is only adding fuel to the fire as politicians are reacting badly to this concrete change to the definition of ... well, "marriage."

"Such disregard of democracy must be condemned," said Herve Mariton, a UMP member of Parliament who is a vocal opponent of gay rights. Of course, he was referring to Larousse's decision to move forward and amend the definition for their 2014 edition of the dictionary, which will be published in June. By this time, if everything moves as it is expected, same-sex marriage will be legal in France.

Interestingly, this dictionary already had a definition for "gay marriage" that was essentially the same as the definition of "marriage." Larousse defended its decision with this information, along with the general evolution of the world's views on same-sex marriage.

"We evolve definitions under the law but also according to usage," said a spokesman. "For us it is the use of the word that determines if one accepts or not to incorporate it into our dictionaries."

These members of Parliament are fighting a losing battle. Same-sex marriage will soon be legal in France, and Larousse "officially" making the word "marriage" an all-inclusive term should not be on their list of concerns for the country.

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Christine Salek

Christine is a writer and perpetual student living in Des Moines, Iowa. Her writing can also be found on Medium, the Gonzaga Bulletin, and ResearchGate.

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