The French Senate Friday approved a bill to allow same-sex couples to wed and adopt children,leaving France poised to join the small group of nations that have fully legalized gay marriage,despite an unexpectedly vocal campaign by conservative opponents.
A final vote on the legislation,which figured among the campaign promises of President François Hollande has been scheduled for next week in the lower house of Parliament,where the Senates minor amendments are expected to easily pass. Hollandes Socialist Party holds a strong majority in the lower house,which approved an earlier version of the text in February.
Should the bill pass,however,parliamentary conservatives have vowed to challenge its constitutionality,though precedent suggests that a rejection by the Constitutional Council,the court that rules on such matters,would be unlikely.
The French debate over a law to legalize gay marriage comes as the Supreme Court of the United States is examining a law that prohibits it; a ruling in that case,involving a gay marriage ban in the state of California,could oblige all 50 states to legalize gay marriage. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in several American states,some areas of Brazil and Mexico and 12 countries,half of them in Europe.
In France,the left has broadly supported the bill on gay marriage,which many supporters prefer to call marriage for all. The countrys largest conservative party,the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement,has opposed it.
On Friday,the Senate vote fell largely along partisan lines,179 to 157. You have consolidated and reinforced the republican pact, said Justice Minister Christiane Taubira,who has been the governments foremost defender of the bill,speaking before the Senate after the vote.
There has been marked opposition,however,in a country that remains largely Roman Catholic,with deeply rooted conservative convictions in much of the populace. Opponents have marched in hundreds of thousands in demonstrations in Paris and across the country in recent months.
Christian,Jewish and Muslim religious leaders have also called upon the faithful to protest the legislation.