The Perks of Partnership

“Same-sex couples gain the right to marry” has been displayed on headlines all throughout le monde. Throughout the years, this media outbreak gave me false hope for friends and family faced with this situation. As I came to realize last month, same-sex couples do not have the right to marry. In fact, it wasn’t until I was scheduled to visit family and friends in the US  when I truly realized this level of discrimination against same-sex couples. There’s a difference between knowing that discrimination exists and experiencing that discrimination firsthand.

In France, as in many countries in le monde, opposite sex couples have the option of mariage or PACS (Pacte Civil de Solidarité), the French version of a civil union. In France, same-sex couples have the option of PACS (edit: According to a Notaire in Aix, same-sex couples do not have the same option of mariage as do opposite-sex couples – Despite the headline, “same-sex mariage becomes legal in France”. It’s possible that his facts are mixed up, but he’s a professional Notaire, so, he makes contracts between same-sex couples on a regular basis.). Mon chéri and I have decided to go the PACS route as it’s more affordable and practical than mariage. We may fit into the opposite-sex couple category, but the same laws with PACS apply to us as with same-sex couples. In France, those laws seem to be enough (the right to be on the same health insurance, the right to live together, the right to a Carte de Séjour…); however, when one partner is Américain(e), things start to get complicated. For an Américain(e) to change the visa status to the Carte de Séjour, he/she must already possess a longue visa. This is where the problèmes begin. The US partner of the PACSed couple doesn’t have the right to the spousal visa, so, the only other option is the Visa Visiteur/Touriste

So, what do PACSé couples do when one partner gets denied or doesn’t meet the requirements for the Visa Visiteur/Touriste? There should be a separate visa for PACSé couples. But, for now, these couples are forced to stress over how they will be able to build their lives together, a stress that I find very offensive. When entering into a PACS relationship, the couple has to (1) schedule an appointment at the Tribunal or (2) schedule an appointment with a notaire. The couple “signs their lives away,” so-to-speak, by defining and legalizing their future life together. This legality has mariage written all over it. So, why are PACS couples still experiencing this “second-class status” discrimination? I’m baffled. I guess we should’ve chosen the mariage route, eh?

However, there is some hope at the end of the tunnel: today (Friday, 26 June 2015), the US supreme court legalized same-sex mariage. So, although the discrimination among couples in civil unions (PACS) and couples in mariage continues to exist, at least same-sex couples now have the option of mariage. ♦

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6 thoughts on “The Perks of Partnership

    1. The interesting thing is that the Notaire in Aix and the Tribunal in Aix both told us that the only thing that same-sex couples can do is PACS. That legally, they do not have the right to fill out the marriage contract. But, maybe they got their facts mixed up? In any case, the discrimination between civil unions and marriages is beyond ridiculous. But, it is what it is.

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    2. Thank you for commenting! I added an edit stating where I got the information from to make it clear as to why I wrote that same-sex couples can only get PACSed. It was really what I learned from the notaire and from the tribunal. I always thought that when you read, “same-sex couples have the right to marry” that it’s really just like that. Straight forward. But, after hearing that it’s not really the case in Aix, I thought that was wrong.

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  1. It’s really interesting to read such a negative review of the pacs. From what I’ve heard from friends who are pacsed, and other Americans in the French community, it’s a relatively quick, inexpensive, and easily dissolvable way for a foreigner to remain in France with their partner. This past year, I’ve often lamented the fact that the United States doesn’t have a federally recognized civil union (as our state civil unions have little in common with the pacs) since my fiancé and I are currently going through the American visa process (he is English). When all is said and done, we’ll have spent over two thousand dollars in all the application fees, it will take over a year from when we sent in our initial paperwork until we recieve the visa (at which point my fiancé can finally come to the US), and we are required to get married within three months of him entering the country! For me, the pacs seems like a dream–I guess the grass is always greener on the other side 🙂

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    1. I guess it is. 🙂 That’s too bad that the US doesn’t have anything similar to PACS. There are civil unions depending on the state, but, they aren’t quite like the PACS. On the whole, I’m happy that the PACS exists. It has afforded my boyfriend and I a way to “marry” without the $2,000+ fees that come with marriage (we ended up having to go through a notaire, which was about 350 euros, but aside from that PACS is usually free). But, honestly, the visa business is just as messy and frustrating. It’s actually hard to get the visitor visa to return to France. The French consulate refused to let me put PACS as the reason I would be going back to France. This made no sense because that is the reason for returning to live there. The easiest thing to do is to PACS while on a long stay visa so that you can change the visa into the carte de sejour right away. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option for everyone. 😦

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