“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. ♦