PACSing was created in France in late 1999, originally as an alternative to gay marriage, but straight couples are also allowed to get PACSed. In 2000, there were 22,108 PACS. In 2008, the number had risen to 144,716. However, less than 6% of the PACS in 2008 were gay couples. The majority of PACS are actually straight couples who intend to eventually get married, or who get PACSed for the tax benefits. These statistics are probably unwelcome to the anti-PACS crusaders who claim it deteriorates the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Too bad the divorce rate is still much higher (about 50%) than the de-PACSing rate (about 15%).
Recently couples have been celebrating their PACS in their town halls. PACSing is actually done at the tribunal, but couples nowadays in certain cities can also go to the mairie to have another ceremony that resembles a marriage ceremony. (Remember in France all marriage ceremonies must be done at the town hall. Church weddings are not legally binding because separation of church and state actually exists here.)
I have yet to come across statistics on how many PACS partners are foreigners though. I’m interested in knowing how many foreigners get PACSed just for the right to live in France legally (provided their préfecture actually gives them a carte de séjour). It’s not exactly law, but usually non-EU citizens who are PACSed to a French citizen or even another EU citizen can get a visitor residency card for a year, and then after that, they will have the right to live and work in France like any EU citizen.
David and I have been PACSed since March 2007 and I now have the right to live and work in France thanks to being PACSed. I still have to renew my residency card every year, and I have to wait longer to apply for citizenship (5 years instead of the 4 required if you’re married to a French citizen); but it’s worth it to not be separated from David just because we were born in different countries.
So happy 10 years PACS! Here’s to hoping that all countries someday allow civil unions AND marriage to ALL people.