I just learned this and wanted to share: gay marriage is almost-sort-of legal in France! A Pact Civil de Solidarité (or PaCS) is a civil union between two people of any sex who wish to combine their debts, contracts, and assets. A PaCS is not available between: family members, those who are already married or PaCSed, nonresidents of France and those under 18.
Couples can file taxes jointly after three years, may collect inheritance and social security benefits, can share health benefits, and must share a common residence. Partners can not jointly file for adoption, however one partner can file for single-parent adoption. A nonresident can not gain residency through a PaCS, only though marriage. A PaCS ends when one partner dies, or after a three month waiting period if one partner requests it. A PaCS also ends if one partner gets married.
I searched around but I couldn't find any information on whether or not one partner is allowed to make power-of-attorney decisions should the other partner become unable to make those decisions for herself . . . if anyone knows please let me know. I'm also not sure if one partner shares the burden of all the other partner's past debts, or if couples only share debts incurred while PaCSed.
In French, "pacser" has become a verb, as in "Voulez-vous pacser avec moi?" or "Les femmes se pacsent." Un Pacte de Civil Solidarité is not equal to marriage, but it's an important step toward equality. If only the US would do the same.
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