France Legalizes Gay Marriage
France has become the 14th nation to legalize same-sex marriage after the country’s Socialist-dominated parliament approved a bill that also allows gay couples to adopt children.
France 24 reports that the National Assembly voted 331-225 in favor of the “Marriage for All” bill, the culmination of months of acrimonious and sometimes violent exchanges between supporters and opponents of gay marriage.
The vote was greeted with jubilation by many people who had gathered outside the National Assembly in Paris. Others reacted with boos, and a protest against the measure was planned for Tuesday evening. Inside, assembly President Claude Bartelone ordered the expulsion of an anti-gay marriage protester who disrupted the proceedings.
“Only those who love democracy are here,” Bartelone angrily declared, the Associated Press reports.
Bartelone, who received a gunpowder-filled envelope on Monday, and other legislators had received threats as the vote on the historic measure neared, and homophobic attacks against LGBT couples soared across the country.
Hundreds of thousands of French opponents of marriage equality traveled from around the nation to Paris last month, where they rallied and marched down the famed Champs Elysées in a last-ditch effort to stop the “Marriage for All” bill from succeeding. What began as a peaceful protest degenerated into clashes between demonstrators and police, who used tear gas to subdue unruly elements of the crowd.
The violence even affected the National Assembly, with lawmakers coming to blows during a heated debate over the marriage bill.
But on Tuesday, LGBT activists celebrated France’s historic vote.
“I hope people across the country will celebrate this moment,” 31-year-old Martin Gaillard, who heads the advocacy group Projet Entourage LGBT, told France 24, adding that it was a “joyous day.”
Opponents of marriage equality vowed to continue fighting against marriage reform despite the bill’s passage. Henri Guaino, a lawmaker with the right-wing UMP, is calling on Socialist President François Hollande to call a referendum on the issue.
France’s legalization of gay marriage comes less than a week after New Zealand’s parliament passed a similar measure. Earlier this month, Uruguay became the second Latin American nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
The 14 nations which have legalized gay marriage are: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay. Nine US states plus the District of Columbia and three Native American tribes have also legalized gay marriage, as have nine Brazilian states and the Brazilian Federal District, as well as the Mexican Federal District and state of Qunitana Roo.
France is the most populous nation to have legalized gay marriage. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira announced that same-sex marriages could begin as soon as June.
“We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they’ll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families,” Taubira said.
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