“La Fiancée de Frankenstein”

Once upon a time, in a land called America, some angry old men got together and decided that the only way they could guarantee their party’s future at the ballot box was by inking the proverbial deal with the devil.

Their party was the GOP, and their devil wrapped itself in the mantle of God.

Fast forward to today.

While the leadership of the Republican party is still controlled by the far right, there’s been a schism of sorts between the fiscally-conservative Tea Party and the religiously-conservative party of God.

Republicans have found that their courtship of America’s religious right has created a tolerance gap in the mind of the voters between the GOP and Democrats.

Jerry Falwell.

Jerry Falwell.

And party leaders are now concerned that the perception of Republicans as angry and intolerant may doom their chances at taking back the White House for years to come.

Colin Powell, for example, recently lamented the Republican party’s “vein of intolerance.”

And GOP Senator Lindsey Graham went even farther when he declared that the Republicans were facing a “demographic death spiral” from the party’s alienation of Latinos, but also other minorities, like gays, and women.

Take the gay marriage debate.

Have you heard any Republican, outside of the religious right or Ted Cruz, seriously take on marriage equality lately at the federal level? While Republicans at the state level have pulled out all the stops in an attempt to stop gays and lesbian from attaining their civil rights, at the national level the party has developed a severe case of political laryngitis.

And even at the state level, such as in Arizona recently, where Republicans passed a Citizens United type legislation directed at gays, the local GOP quickly relented when even Fox News criticized the party’s anti-gay plans as “Jim Crow for homosexuals.”

France is about to eat its own crow. The country is currently run by a socialist president by the name of François Hollande. Among Hollande’s many campaign promises was the nationwide legalization of same-sex unions, and in 2013 he accomplished just that.

France's first married gay couple.

France’s first married gay couple.

France has two main political parties (though there are many others). The right-wing UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), and the left-wing Socialist Party. And while the Socialist Party would be pretty left-wing for Americans, the UMP, as described by my French friends on the right, is more like America’s Democrats.

But lately, the UMP has been acting a lot more like American Republicans.

You see, the UMP has decided that the way to win its way back into the halls of power is by embracing, and empowering, France’s religious right; and specifically, promoting a nationwide platform of homophobia.

France’s conservatives, in a cry led by former President Sarkozy, are now talking of repealing the right of gay couples to marry in that country. This is part of a larger rapprochement between the UMP and France’s nascent religious right.

"La Fiancée de Frankenstein." Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and religious right leader Frigide Barjot.

“La Fiancée de Frankenstein.” Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and religious right leader Frigide Barjot.

To appreciate how big of a deal this is, you have to remember that France, like most of western Europe, isn’t terribly religious. So the notion of involving religion in politics, let alone a major political party embracing such heresy, is alien to the French. Until now.

After it became clear that France was on the inevitable road towards legalizing gay marriage, the country’s religious right (a combination of the Catholic church, and a small group of extreme religious conservatives operating in cahoots with American religious right leaders), launched a series of violent protesters, which included both anti-semites and neo-nazis.

And you know who else played a lead role in the organized national homophobia? France’s UMP political party, and the man who wants to be its future leader, former President Sarkozy, who railed this weekend about his plans to rip the civil and human rights away from France’s gay and lesbian citizens.

(Sarkozy is an unlikely defender of marriage and the family, as he’s currently on his third of each. “Liberté, Égalité, Divorcé”?)

Whether in the end America’s religious right gave the UMP the crazy idea that cozying up to homophobes was la bonne politique, or whether Sarkozy and France’s “Democrats” came up with the terrible idea all by themselves, it’s a fool’s errand.

At a time when America’s conservatives have learned all too late that intolerance is no longer a ticket to higher office, and the world is increasingly embracing gay people and their rights, it’s beyond bizarre that a country that owns the patent on “love” would look to imitate Moscow when it comes to human rights.

The France I know is better than this.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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