The French National Assembly approved same-sex marriage today, finalizing a law that has divided the country and sparked massive protests for months.
Police braced themselves by the thousands ahead of the vote, preparing for dueling protests around the National Assembly building and along the Seine River.
They used tear gas and pepper spray against hundreds of thousands of traditional marriage supporters the last time they gathered to publicly protest the law, claiming demonstrators got violent.
The most visible face in the fight against gay marriage—former comedienne Frigide Barjot—said the movement named "A Protest for Everyone" will continue beyond the law's passage and possibly field candidates in 2014 municipal elections. Barjot said any protestor involved in violence would be marginalized, but blamed the government for its failure to listen.
"The violence comes from the way in which this was imposed," Barjot told France Info radio.
The vote came Tuesday, 331-225, in the Socialist majority National Assembly. At least one spectator, a supporter of traditional marriage, was thrown out of the gallery.
The first same-sex weddings could be held as early as June, according to France’s justice minister, Christiane Taubira.
France is the 14th country to redefine marriage, with Tuesday’s vote coming a week after New Zealand’s.
Traditional marriage supporters say France is not ready to legalize adoption for same-sex couples, and polls show the country sharply divided on the issue.