Ken Connor

When we gaze across the pond at our European cousins, the general assumption is that we're looking at our future. From food and fashion to politics and culture, Europe is on the cutting edge – the avant garde. Depending on your ideological sympathies, this is either seen as a good thing or a bad thing. Conservatives see Europe's shrinking families, Socialist governments, and empty churches and shudder to think America is on the same track. Progressives swoon at the idea of America evolving towards a progressive, multicultural, global-minded future.

One would assume, then, that when it comes to hot button social issues like abortion and gay marriage, Europeans would be of one mind – the Progressive mind. But assumptions, as we well know, are often wrong. Turns out, most European countries restrict abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, and reflection periods, counseling on alternatives to abortion, and evaluation by multiple physicians are often required. On the question of same-sex marriage, opposition is cropping up in unlikely places. Despite their reputation for a laissez-faire approach to life, there is a growing movement in France dedicated to preserving the traditional definition of marriage – a movement that encompasses every stripe of citizen, from Catholic clergy to atheist gays and everyone in between.

Writing for "Public Discourse," author Robert Oscar Lopez (raised in a same-sex household and a self-identified bisexual), has been tracking the French response to the LGBT movement for several months. He challenges Americans to learn from their example:

"Since the late 1990s, France has offered same-sex couples 'PACs' or civil unions, so the issue of lovers living together is not the powder keg. Though still mostly (if nominally) Catholic, the French are by and large willing to stay out of the bedrooms of people who love one another, irrespective of sex.

Such live-and-let-live philosophy does not apply when the citizens see a threat to the nation's children. Here is where Americans must follow their playbook closely, because it is probably the surest way to break the stalemate in the United States about marriage and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.