France’s gay marriage bill has parliament in stitches... or playing Scrabble
French lawmakers have begun addressing the government’s marriage equality bill along with the 5,396 amendments filed by the conservative opposition in the hope of hindering its progress. Fourteen consecutive days have been accorded to the bill, meaning a two-week parliamentary tug of war.
Seemingly fatigued by the tedium of more than 5,000 obscure amendments and the rash mudslinging that comes with late-night sessions, certain lawmakers have been finding it difficult to remain focused on the task at hand.
Socialist Justice Minister Christiane Taubira set the tone on Tuesday when she burst into laughter during a response to a conservative counterpart and was forced to step away from the podium, pinching her nose and shaking her head as she went. The outburst was sparked by the use of a phrase which can refer to a type of excrement. By the time the minister had stopped crying, even the leader of the house was laughing.
Next up, Thomas Thévenoud, who came under harsh criticism from conservatives when he was caught playing Scrabble by another MP. A photo of his tablet game-playing was posted on Twitter, and on closer examination, the first word on the board revealed itself as ‘branleur’, which literally means ‘wanker’ or ‘jerk-off’ and refers to someone who’s lazy.
“It was 3.30 in the morning,” Thévenoud told daily TV show Le Petit Journal. Thévenoud’s Scrabble playmate, MP Jerome Guedj, also defended the sneaky game in an amusing blog post in which he described the boredom of “thousands of identical amendments, each of which takes five to ten minutes to process,” admitting that he also had time to phone his son, his plumber, read the paper and eat a Kit Kat. Thévenoud boasted of his 102 Scrabble points at such a late hour.
On a slightly more serious note, the MPs criticised their conservative opponents for being “the most out of date rightwing in Europe”. Comparing the same-sex marriage debate in the British parliament, Thévenoud said that “in England, gay marriage was adopted in six hours. Here, we’ve been debating it for more than a week already.”