Amid gripes, France joins gay couples by the thousands
PARIS — Same-sex marriage has been gaining acceptance in France a year after a law allowing such unions was passed following vociferous public opposition and heated debate in Parliament.
More than 7,000 same-sex marriages were performed in 2013, according to recent figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.
Paris had the largest number of same-sex weddings — more than 1,000 — but ceremonies were also held in small villages and in large cities throughout the country. In total, same-sex marriages represented 3 percent of all weddings in 2013. Most of those unions were between middle-aged men.
Erwann Binet, a Socialist member of Parliament who presented the law at the National Assembly last year, called the change “considerable,” adding that the weddings of the past year had helped make same-sex marriage seem like a positive development to the French public.
The law was viewed as a significant victory for President François Hollande, whose declining support in public opinion polls had already begun.
Demonstrations against same-sex marriage, which sometimes turned violent, swept the country and were particularly vehement in the months before the law was implemented in May last year. Behind the opposition were conservative and religious leaders as well as some groups that simply opposed Hollande’s left-leaning government.
—Maïa De La Baume and Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times
Americans die in grim trend in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan — Three Americans were killed at a private hospital in Kabul on Thursday morning when an Afghan police officer turned his gun on them, officials said, in the latest in a string of attacks against Western civilians here.
After a campaign of Taliban violence aimed at foreigners raised apprehensions before the presidential election this month, the latest attack seemed to have nothing to do with the insurgency. Rather, officials said the gunman appeared to be a police officer who reacted in the moment when he saw a small group of U.S. visitors outside his guard post, raising fears of a new wave of so-called green-on-blue shootings spurred by deepening Afghan resentment.
The shooting took place at Cure International Hospital, which specializes in the treatment of disabled children and women’s health issues. Afghan police officials said that one of the doctors there was hosting visitors from the U.S. who, after taking pictures together in front of the hospital, were headed inside when they were attacked.
Among the dead was a pediatrician from Chicago, Dr. Jerry Umanos, who had volunteered at the Cure hospital for almost nine years, treating children and helping train Afghan doctors. There were few details about the other victims on Thursday night.
Afghan officials identified the gunman, who was wounded, as a two-year veteran of the Kabul police force named Ainuddin, who had only recently been assigned to guard the hospital. Witnesses and officials said he fired on the Americans as they approached his security post at the building’s entrance, killing three and wounding a female doctor before entering the interior courtyard and seeking new targets.
There were conflicting reports about whether other officers then shot him, or whether he turned his gun on himself. He was admitted at the Cure hospital as a patient.
Spokesmen for the Taliban, usually quick to claim responsibility for attacks on Westerners, did not assert any involvement this time. Instead, the details seemed to speak to a growing alienation between Afghans and Americans here, as uncertainty about the relationship between their countries has deepened as troops prepare to withdraw this year.
“The foreigners have been here too long,” said a man outside the hospital who gave his name as Fawad and said a female relative was in the Cure hospital undergoing surgery. “People are tired of them.”
—Azam Ahmed and Alan Blinder, The New York Times