French Lawmakers Pass Gay-Marriage Bill With Protests Continuing

The French parliament passed a law allowing same-sex marriage and adoption that has split public opinion in the country.

After daily protests across France -- many of which turned into a lightning rod for anger over President Francois Hollande’s economic policies -- the bill passed in a vote today by 331-225. 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.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said in the National Assembly after the vote. “This is a very beautiful reform with a place in French history. It’s the responsibility of the government to stop discrimination.”

Thousands of demonstrators have marched on the French capital’s boulevards the past several weeks, calling on Hollande to drop the bill. While public opinion favors gay marriage, the French by a small majority oppose same-sex adoption, polls show.

Daniel Fasquelle, a member of parliament from the opposition Union for a Popular Movement, said critics would seek to have same-sex adoption repealed by the constitutional court. While France already has civil unions for gay couples, such unions don’t give the right to adoption.

“It’s a misguided and unbalanced law that undermines the rights of children,” Fasquelle said in a televised interview on La Chaine Parlementaire.

Catch All

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.

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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