Months of protests from hundreds of thousands of traditional marriage supporters have failed to withstand a shove toward homosexual marriage in France. This morning, members of the French Senate raised their hands in a vote legalizing same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples.
Although Parliament still has to vote on minor amendments to the legislation, the portion approving same-sex marriage is a done deal. The complete gay-rights package is expected to receive final approval in May.
It will make France the 13th nation to legalize same-sex marriage. (Uruguay will be the 12th: Lawmakers there on Thursday approved a gay marriage measure and sent it to their president, who is expected to sign it.)
The French have spent months waging a fierce debate over same-sex marriage. Socialist French President François Hollande ran for office promising marriage to same-sex couples, but public support has faltered in the country, where Roman Catholic roots run deep. Last August, polls showed public support for gay marriage stood as high as 65 percent, but one poll in January indicated support had dropped to 52 percent. Although same-sex civil unions have been legal in the country since 1999, many French say children shouldn’t grow up in homes with two dads or two moms.
Jean-Claude Lenoir, a senator opposing the bill, told fellow lawmakers Friday, “You’re disrupting the civil code.”
French comedian Frigide Barjot has been a leader behind the pro-traditional marriage demonstrations. In January she told media she and her allies had organized the protests without any help from the Catholic Church. Leaders in the Church said they did support the demonstrations, even if they didn’t help plan them.
On March 24 pro-traditional marriage demonstrators clashed with police, who sprayed tear gas at the crowds and beat people with batons. Before that day’s protest, Pierre Bergé, a supporter of same-sex marriage and the former partner of fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, sent out a tweet saying, “If a bomb goes off on 24 March on the Champs because of [the demonstration], I won’t be crying.” Now demonstrators are suing him for making a statement that was an “incitement to commit an act of terrorism,” according to Radio France International.