Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Annulment Debate

A debate on the judicial decision to annul a marriage on the grounds that the wife's concealment of her non-virginity represented a deception as to the "essential qualities" of one of the parties can be heard here. Here is the account of one of the participants in the debate, the legal blogger "Maître Eolas." Eolas is of the opinion that this affair marks the eruption of yet another "defense of the Republic" by republican ultras, who were "lying in wait for the first symptom of [judicial] recognition of le fait communautariste." In short, we have here another case with all the ingredients that allowed the controversy over the Islamic veil to défrayer la chronique for more than a decade: a potent mix of sex, religion, law, history, and symbolism.

The fate of the two individuals at the heart of the matter is of course buried beneath the avalanche of passions. In an interesting aside, Eolas remarks that he believes the reason the couple did not seek divorce by mutual consent is that the law requires both parties to appear together before a judge before such a divorce can be granted, and neither party wished to be in the presence of the other. If the defense of the Republic requires that a court insist that such a marriage remain legally intact, then one might be tempted to conclude that there is something wrong with the idea of a Republic that requires such a defense. The ultras are unlikely to find such an argument persuasive, however.

ADDENDUM: The flood of readers coming here from Andrew Sullivan's site may want to look at this earlier post on the subject. I think commenter ejm gets it about right.

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