France Becomes 14th Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 23 2013 12:32 PM

France Becomes 14th Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

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People demonstrate during a protest organized by fundamentalist Christians group Civitas Institute against same-sex marriage on April 6, 2013

Photo by Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images

France today became the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage, a move that came after widespread and occasionally violent protests on the streets of Paris. The new measure will also legalize adoption for gay and lesbian couples. The Associated Press with the details:

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage. "Only those who love democracy are here," Claude [Bartolone], the Assembly president, said angrily.
In recent weeks, violent attacks against gay couples have spiked and some legislators have received threats — including [Bartolone], who got a gunpowder-filled envelope on Monday.
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The measure technically still has to clear a promised constitutional challenge, but the likelihood that the council will strike it down is low: It already ruled in 2011 that the matter of gay marriage was up to Parliament to decide. Assuming it clears that hurdle, lawmakers say the the first marriages could take place as early as the end of May.

Gay marriage has been a divisive issue in France. The BBC cites a poll indicating that the country is relatively split on the issue, with a slight majority supporting same-sex marriage. Conservatives, bolstered by the influential Roman Catholic Church in the country, have opposed the legislation and are hoping against the odds that the constitutional council will intervene. Opposition protests to the bill, which have brought hundreds of thousands out into the streets, have not always been peaceful, as CNN explains:

In France, the contentious debate over the same-sex marriage bill has coincided with a spike in reported incidents of homophobic abuse, the gay rights group SOS Homophobie told BFM-TV last week. A gay bar in Lille was targeted Wednesday night by four men who appeared to belong to a far-right group, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday, in a statement condemning the attack. Valls also condemned violence that broke out Thursday evening at a march against same-sex marriage, when "organized groups" refused to disperse and clashed with police.

SOS Homophobie reported a spike in calls over homophobic attacks in recent months, with about 1,200 such calls coming in between January and the end of March of this year. By comparison, the organization received 1,556 calls for the entire year of 2011.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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