April 12, 2013 at 12:35 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
French Senate approves same-sex marriage, adoption bill
France, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

More than 100,000 people marched through the streets of Paris on Jan. 29 in support of the bill. (Photo by Guillaume Bonnet/All Out)

The French Senate on Friday approved a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.

The simple vote came three days after lawmakers in the chamber approved an article within the measure that would specifically open marriage to gays and lesbians by a 179-157 vote margin. The senators on Wednesday approved the measure’s adoption provision.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who testified in support of the proposal backed by President François Hollande in both the Senate and the National Assembly, applauded the senators who voted for the bill.

“I know at some point one can get burned out by the desire to intervene during the hearing,” she said as the newspaper L’Express reported, referring to the debate on the measure that began on April 2. “I know that you resisted this temptation. It is for carrying out this responsibility for which I want to salute you.”

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, who is gay, also welcomed the measure’s passage.

“It is with great satisfaction that I salute the Senate’s adoption of the ‘marriage for all’ bill,” he said in a statement.

The measure’s supporters and opponents staged several marches through the streets of Paris in recent months that each drew hundreds of thousands of people to the French capital.

Charles Roncier, a gay blogger who is an assistant editor-in-chief for the website VIH.org, told the Washington Blade from Paris earlier on Friday that LGBT rights advocates have become increasingly concerned about what they describe as homophobic rhetoric against the bill that includes claims it would allow people to marry objects and animals. They have used the Facebook images of Wilfred de Bruijn, a librarian whom the Associated Press said was beaten unconscious by a group of men as he and his boyfriend were walking to their home in the French capital on April 7, to highlight their claims that anti-gay attacks have increased as the lawmakers debated the same-sex marriage adoption proposal.

“It’s really weird because they were always insisting on the fact that they were not being homophobic,” Roncier said of the bill’s opponents.. “They did not want to be labeled as homophobes, but still at the same time the discourse and their words were homophobic.”

Neighboring Belgium and Spain are among the European countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

British lawmakers continue to debate a proposal that would extend marriage to gays and lesbians in England and Wales. Scottish legislators are also expected to consider a similar measure in the coming weeks.

A final vote on the measure in the French National Assembly, which approved it in February by a 329-229 vote margin, is expected to take place in the coming days.

Roncier said same-sex couples are “excited” about the prospect they could potentially be able to get married in France as early as next month.

“We used to be the minority who used to fight for our rights and for the first time I witnessed my minority being defended by the government and the majority of French people and against another minority who were against us,” he told the Blade. “It was very new and very touching.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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