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French Senate approves gay marriage bill

April 12, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • Men exchange rings in a symbolic ceremony in Paris in September 2012.
Men exchange rings in a symbolic ceremony in Paris in September 2012. (Kenzo Tribouillard / Agence…)

France is one step closer to allowing couples of the same sex to wed and adopt children after its Senate on Friday approved a landmark bill to legalize gay marriage.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, a supporter of the bill, said legalizing gay marriage and enshrining adoption rights “is an act of freedom, it is an act of equality, and it is an act of brotherhood” (link in French).

“Marriage becomes a universal institution,” she added.

Polls have shown that a majority of the French support gay marriage, but are divided on granting adoption rights to partners of the same sex. The Socialist government of President Francois Hollande has backed the “marriage for all” legislation through fervent protests by religious conservatives in the traditionally Roman Catholic country, a split reflected in the 179-to-157 Senate vote.  

The new law would cause a "rupture" in society, right-wing former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said Friday, according to Agence France-Presse. Last month, police battled protesters who were rallying against the bill in Paris, denouncing gay marriage as a blow to French families.

Gay marriage supporters, in turn, crowded Paris on Thursday to oppose homophobia, citing an increase in attacks and slurs against gays and lesbians since the marriage bill came to the fore.  

New rounds of protest are expected this spring as the bill heads to a second reading for changes in both the lower house and the Senate. A final vote is expected in late May, according to AFP.

The French vote comes on the heels of similar legislation in Uruguay, which is poised to become the second country in South America to allow gay marriage and the 12th to do so worldwide after its Senate approved a marriage bill Wednesday.

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