April 23, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
French marriage bill receives final approval
France, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Guillaume Bonnet/All Out)

The French National Assembly on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to gay and lesbian couples.

The 331-225 vote took place less than two weeks after the country’s Senate approved the measure. The bill passed in the National Assembly in February by a 329-229 vote margin.

“In voting for this law, we want to offer it to the tens of thousands of children who want, after they leave school, the power to give their hand to their two dads or to their two moms,” Bernard Roman, a Socialist member of the National Assembly, said before lawmakers approved the bill as Le Monde reported.

Hervé Mariton, who is a member of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP,) spoke against the proposal.

“In a few weeks, perhaps, friends, Diane and Françoise, will marry,” he said, according to Le Monde as he criticized his fellow legislators for not allowing a referendum on the issue. “Marriage, before being rights, are obligations.”

The measure’s supporters have become increasingly concerned in recent weeks with rhetoric against the bill they contend has sparked a spate of anti-gay violence across France. These include a librarian whom a group of men beat unconscious as he and his boyfriend walked to their Paris home on April 7 and a gay cabaret singer who was attacked early Saturday morning as he and his partner left a Nice nightclub.

National Assembly President Claude Bartolone on Monday received a letter that contained gunpowder. French police reportedly placed water canons outside the building to deter those who may have wanted to try and disrupt the vote.

Le Manif Pour Tous, which opposes the same-sex marriage and adoption bill, plans to protest the measure’s passage outside the National Assembly later today.

“The deputies in the majority stress ‘equality,’” it said in a Tweet just before the vote. “What equality is there for the new legal orphans create by this law?”

The bill’s opponents can prompt a constitutional review of the measure if their effort receives the support of 60 members of the Senate or the National Assembly. President François Hollande, who publicly backed the extension of marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples during his 2012 presidential campaign, has already said lawmakers and not the constitution should decide issue.

“This is a historic moment that the world should celebrate,” All Out Executive Director Andre Banks said in a statement after the vote. “Once the constitutional court reviews the bill, and President Hollande signs the bill, loving and committed gay and lesbian couples will finally be able to marry in France.”

ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis also welcomed the French gay marriage vote.

“We congratulate the French parliamentarians and the French nation for this historic step,” she said. “The country whose motto is liberté, égalité, fraternité has finally fully applied it to all citizens when it comes to marriage.”

France’s first same-sex marriage are expected to take place in Montpellier in mid-June.

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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