April 9, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
French same-sex marriage bill clears major hurdle

France, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

The French Senate (Photo by Romain Vincens via Wikimedia Commons)

The French Senate on Tuesday approved a proposed amendment to a same-sex marriage and adoption bill that would extend nuptials to gays and lesbians.

Le Monde reported the provision passed by a 179-157 vote margin after senators debated it for more than 10 hours — lawmakers on April 2 began to consider the same-sex marriage and adoption bill the National Assembly approved in February by a 329-229 vote margin.

An estimated 300,000 people marched through the streets of Paris late last month in opposition to the measure — police used tear gas and batons against roughly 200 protesters who had tried to march on the Champs Elysées without a permit. More than 100,000 people in January marched through the French capital in support of the proposal.

“The vote of this article marks a victory in the fight against homophobia and for tolerance and democracy,” Sen. François Rebsamen said in a statement to Le Monde.

French lawmakers still need to consider the bill’s remaining provision before it receives final approval, but observers noted the same-sex marriage amendment was the most important hurdle that supporters had to overcome.

President François Hollande, who endorsed marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples during his 2012 presidential campaign, has pledged to sign the bill into law.

“France is poised to become the latest country — 16 on four continents — where loving and committed gay couples can share in the freedom to marry, and it won’t be the last this year,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said in a statement that noted lawmakers in Uruguay and New Zealand have approved same-sex marriage bills in recent weeks. “Like France, the United States extols liberty, equality, and fairness; it is time for our country, too, to end the denial of marriage and live up to our best values.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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