Same-Sex Marriage to Be Legal Soon in France

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday April 11, 2013

Despite large protests against it, France appears poised to become the next nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

As San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and others have been reporting, France's Senate approved Section 1 of a marriage equality bill on Tuesday after a 10-hour debate by a 179 to 157 vote. Section 1 of the bill will remove all gender references on marriage applications, in effect allowing same-sex couples to legally tie the knot.

The upper chamber did not change the bill's language. The National Assembly approved Section 1 in February by a 329 to 229 vote.

Section 1 was key but the Senate now continues it debate onthe other sections. France's Senate has been debating the issue for several weeks. The Senate will continue deliberations at least through Friday and possibly into the weekend.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News points out that polls in France show a narrow majority supporting marriage equality.

France will thus join the Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Norway and Spain in having legalized same-sex marriage in Europe. The next likely European nation to do so is probably Great Britain, where the Conservative government strongly backs it.

Over the past six months, thousands of people have poured into the wide boulevards of Paris to protest same-sex marriage. Homophobia is also on the rise. Just this week, a gay couple was badly beaten in Paris because, the two men said, of their sexual orientation.

Leading the fight against same-sex marriage is the Roman Catholic Church. Although France is proudly secular, the church there has deep roots. Most people are non-practicing, but the vast majority of French still consider themselves Catholic.

Once President Francois Hollande signs the the bill into law, same-sex couples in France should be able to marry as early as summer, although there has as yet been no official date when the law will take effect.

Hollande and his Socialist Party made marriage equality a cornerstone of its policy as far back as January 2012. Hollande became president in election in May 2012 after forming a coalition with other left-of-center parties.