In France, civil unions are soaring in popularity—for heterosexuals. PACS, as they are known in France, were established in 1999 and lauded by gay-rights advocates; little did they expect the huge success of the measure ... among straight people, who made up 95% of the civil unions created last year. There are now two civil unions for every three marriages in the country, the New York Times reports. Couples cite a variety of reasons for the choice, which provides most of marriage's legal benefits.
For one thing, it makes splitting up easy—to dissolve one, the couple need only get a registered letter. “We’re the generation of divorced parents,” says one woman who’s “gotten PACSed.” “The notion of eternal marriage has grown obsolete.” Some see it as a way around their religious associations with marriage. Others use it as a precursor or “test” before marriage. The Roman Catholic Church has even eased up on its criticism of PACS, with the National Confederation of Catholic Family Associations calling the agreements not “a real threat.”