FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Gay and the Dead

 

“Most everybody in the world climbs into their graves married.”

Thornton Wilder, Our Town

It was an interesting month for the institution of marriage. Gays and lesbians in the United States were getting married all over while many of those who were heralding the brilliance of the Mel Gibson movie dealing with the crucifixion of one more tolerant than they were being driven crazy by the sight and screaming for someone to do something. George W. Bush decided to celebrate the movie’s opening by announcing that he supports a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. Meanwhile, across the ocean the French were dealing not with gay marriage but the marriage of the quick and the dead.

In the Riviera city of Nice, Christelle Demichel married her fiancee who missed the wedding. He missed it because he had been killed by a drunk driver a year earlier while riding his motorcycle. The wedding was held on the day that would have been his 30th birthday.

According to reports, some 40 people attended the wedding and reception that took place in a local restaurant. The champagne bottles had labels on them with the names of the newlywed bride and her dead fiancee inscribed on them. Describing the occasion, Ms. Demichel said: “I had what you can call a perfect wedding.” Later she said, in a phrase faintly reminiscent of what was said about the about the man in the movie at the conclusion of the events depicted therein: “I have transcended death.” She was, of course, not referring to the same thing. In fact, it is not clear to what she was referring.

While the chief proponents of brotherly love are being driven into a frenzy by the sight of gays and lesbians getting married, a sight that apparently threatens the foundations of their own relationships, the French are marrying dead fiancees at the rate of about 20 a year without any visible signs of upset among the populace. It may be that the sight of a living person marrying someone who has been dead a long time is not as threatening to the fervently heterosexual as the sight of a same sex marriage.

The French practice dates back to 1959 when Charles DeGaulle was president. Following a flood in Southern France that killed hundreds, one of the survivors implored the president to do something so that she could proceed with her marriage plans even though her husband-to-be had drowned. One surmises that she may have made a sizeable down payment on the church and the reception and hated the opportunity for a perfectly good party to be wasted. As a result of her request, the National Assembly drafted a law permitting not only that particular supplicant, but other people as well, to marry their dead bethrotheds.

The uniting of the quick and the dead is not a matter of right. The quick must apply to the French president who then forwards the request to the Minister of Justice who then forwards it to the prosecutor in the place where the quick resides.

The prosecutor determines whether a marriage had in fact been planned. One assumes that the survivor could show the wedding gown, receipts for the deposit on the place the reception was to be held, the engagement and wedding rings and similar indicia of intention to marry. The prosecutor then gets the permission of the deceased person’s parents (something the deceased had already done if a man) and if it is received, approval goes up the chain down which the request came. The president then signs a decree permitting the marriage.

In this particular wedding, there was an orange armchair in which the deceased would have been seated had he been able to attend the festivities. In place of wedding vows, the presidential decree permitting the marriage was read. Rings were not exchanged and the part about “until death do us part” was probably omitted.

Some may assume the marriage is performed in order to bestow the right of inheritance on the living spouse. That is not the case. Although the marriage is effective as of the day before the day the nonliving newly wed died, the law specifically disallows any rights of inheritance to the new spouse. However, since the marriage becomes effective before the death, the death terminates the marriage and the survivor would not have to get a divorce if remarriage were contemplated.

It’s all very sensible. It’s too bad we can’t react to gay marriage the way the French react to post-mortem nuptials realizing as do they, that it only affects the participants and has no effect on officious intermeddlers.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a Boulder, Colorado lawyer. His column appears weekly in the Daily Camera. He can be reached at: brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

More articles by:
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savoir
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail