France Advances Gay Marriage Bill ; Draft Legislation Passed by Government despite Strong, Varied Opposition

Article excerpt

The draft law redefines marriage to stipulate that it is "contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex," and the words "father and "mother" in existing legislation are replaced by "parents."

CORRECTION APPENDED

The French government on Wednesday approved a draft bill legalizing same-sex marriage after weeks of loud opposition, especially from religious figures and the political right.

President Francois Hollande promised to legalize same-sex marriage during his presidential campaign. On Wednesday, he said it would represent "progress for all of society." Mr. Hollande and the Socialists have a majority in both houses of the Legislature, and the bill is expected to pass some time early next year.

The draft law redefines marriage to stipulate that it is "contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex," and the words "father and "mother" in existing legislation are replaced by "parents." The bill would allow married gay couples to adopt children.

Christiane Taubira, the justice minister, told La Croix, a French Catholic newspaper, that "marriage for all," as the government calls it, responded to "a demand for equality." Dominique Bertinotti, the family affairs minister, rejected criticism that the move would destroy the family, saying, "On the contrary, it is a legal protection."

The cabinet decision came a day after Maine and Maryland became the first U.S. states to approve same-sex marriage in a popular vote. It was the same day that Spain's highest court upheld the country's law on same-sex marriage seven years after it was passed in 2005 and more than 21,000 same-sex couples had married.

France would become the 12th country -- including Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Sweden -- to make its marriage laws "gender neutral." In Germany, registered same-sex couples have essentially the same legal rights of married people, but same-sex marriage is not legal.

But the law has been controversial and subject to delays in a nation where, for now, only married couples can adopt. Opinion polls indicate that a majority of the French support gay marriage, but half approve allowing gays to adopt.

On Wednesday, Serge Dassault, an influential senator from the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said the law represented "the end of the family, the end of children's development, the end of education."

He called it "an enormous danger to the nation."

Last month, several hundred people demonstrated against the law in several cities across France, including Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Lille, emphasizing opposition to the adoption of children by gays. …

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.