Chelsea Roff: Is France Really Imposing a National Ban on the Words ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’?

In a controversial move to legalize gay marriage, Fox News and the Telegraph UK are reporting that France is set to “ban the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from all official documents.”

In reality, the French government is seeking to pass a law that would open marriage to “a union of two people, of different or the same gender” and replace references to  the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in the French civil code with more gender-neutral language, like ‘parent.’ But way the story is being reported, you would think the French government is enacting an all-out war on sex-specific language.

In the very first paragraph of both articles (which for some reason are the same on both websites), the reporter makes a point to emphasize the fact that the new law is outraging Catholics (because, that’s the real news, people), and goes on to quote several government and religious officials who claim gay marriage will do everything from “herald a complete breakdown in society”  to “create couples with three or four members.” One clergyman quoted in the piece even suggested that the new law will encourage incest and polyamory.

Not a single pro- same sex marriage source is quoted in the article. If you ask me, this is an example of shabby and biased news reporting. Stories like this skew public understanding of what’s going on in the world. And now, the Huffington Post and several other American news websites have gone on to re-report the same sensationalist headline.

So, in case you were wondering, here’s the real news: Government officials in France have proposed a law that would nationally legalize same sex marriage, as well as grant equal adoption rights to same-sex couples and remove sex-specific language from the country’s legal documents. The law will not effect anyone’s ability to say “mother” and “father” in the country or encourage incestuous relationships, as some news sources might have you believe.

Image Lisa F. Young/