France Set to Pass Gay-Marriage Legislation Today Amid Protests

The French parliament is set to vote today on same-sex marriage and adoption, with the bill likely to sail through.

After several anti-gay-marriage protests -- many of which turned into a lightning rod for anger over President Francois Hollande’s economic policies -- the bill will be voted on at 4:15 p.m. Paris time. It was put forward by Hollande’s Socialist Party, which has a majority in the National Assembly. The French Senate approved the bill on April 12.

Thousands of demonstrators have marched down the French capital’s boulevards over several weeks, calling on Hollande to drop the bill. The gay-marriage bill has proved controversial in France, a predominantly Catholic country.

Although the demonstrations were called to protest proposed “marriage-for-all” legislation that would give same-sex partnerships equal status with heterosexual unions and allow gay people to adopt children, signs carried by demonstrators showed that anger on the streets has widened to other issues.

France is suffering from its most severe economic contraction since 2009, forcing Hollande to abandon his 2013 deficit target and find additional savings to appease the nation’s European partners. Joblessness has surged to a 15-year high as PSA Peugeot-Citroen SA and other manufacturers eliminate tens of thousands of jobs.

Hollande, elected 11 months ago, has become the least-popular French president ever so early in his term.

Divided Opinion

France’s National Assembly voted in favor of the law Feb. 12, before it was sent to the Senate for a vote. The bill is now back before the National Assembly for a final vote.

Opinion polls show that a majority of voters favor giving same-sex couples the right to marry, though they oppose giving such couples rights to adoption or medically assisted procreation.

Pollster BVA found that 58 percent of voters favor gay marriage, while 53 percent oppose giving gay couples the right to adopt, according to a survey published in January.

CSA, another polling company, found that 52 percent favor gay marriage and the same proportion oppose adoption by same-sex couples.

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