In a key victory Tuesday for same-sex couples in France, a measure allowing them to marry and adopt children passed the lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly.
The measure, pushed through by the Socialist administration of President Francois Hollande, passed by a vote of 329 to 229. It now goes to the Senate, which is also controlled by the Socialists and their allies. A vote is scheduled for April 2.
If the bill passes in the Senate, France will join 11 other nations, including Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and South Africa, where same-sex marriage is legal. Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.
A same-sex marriage bill is also working its way through Britain's Parliament.
The legislation polarized the National Assembly largely along right-left political lines. In what is still a majority Catholic country, it was opposed by many Catholics as well as social conservatives, evangelical Christians and many Muslims.