Sarkozy’s Unseemly Return

Emily Tamkin furrows her brow at the former French president’s return to the political scene:

One might think that given [his] particularly expansive marital history, Sarkozy would decline to comment on supposed threats to the institution. But non. In a televised interview over the weekend, Sarkozy—who recently announced his intention to return formally to politics and lead his right-wing UMP party—criticized the policies of French President François Hollande, including the current president’s leadership on LGBTQ issues. The thrice-married politician believes that Hollande’s government, in introducing legislation allowing for same-sex marriage, is “humiliating families and humiliating people who love the family.”

Evan Mulvihill argues argued in 2012 that Sarkozy’s stance makes him a bad conservative:

Sarkozy said he supports inheritance rights for gay couples, but doesn’t want to create “civil unions” because they would “harm the institution of marriage.” France already has a sort of civil union called PACS. How a conservative politician can justify wanting less families on the planet, we do not know. Would that Sarkozy were more like British PM David Cameron, his neighbor to the west, who has said that he does not support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative, but that he supports it because he is a Conservative.

Update from a reader:

Your post on Sarkozy’s statements includes misleading information:

– The referenced article by Evan Mulvihill is from 2012, when Sarkozy ran for re-election at the end of his term. Since then, gay marriage has been passed in France (the “loi Taubira”). The entire commentary and the specific point about civil unions are obsolete.

– The post implies that Sarkozy is currently against gay marriage. In fact, on Sunday, Sarkozy was not clear one way or another. He did not directly answer the question whether he would move to abolish gay marriage if elected again in the future. He did not say that “gay marriage humiliates families” (that’s what some commentators read into it); he said that, during the earlier debate, the family was humiliated (“on a humilié la famille”) and that he doesn’t want to approach the question in the same way again. He was taken to task by one side for not supporting gay marriage; he got as much flak from the anti-gay marriage side for not supporting its abolition.

Full video here (the part about gay marriage is near the end – around 43:00).