Same-sex marriage law by summer in France as opponents fight on

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The French Senate voted yesterday to legalise same-sex marriage, putting a landmark bill on track to become law by summer.

The vote in the upper house of Parliament – led by President Francois Hollande’s Socialists – comes despite boisterous protests. Opponents, mostly conservatives and Roman Catholics, have sought to defend marriage.

France’s Justice Minister, one of the bill’s loudest supporters, said the reform recognises that many children are already living with same-sex parents and deserve the same protections afforded to children of opposite-sex parents.

Christine Taubira said the reform will “move our institutions towards ever more freedom, equality and personal respect”.

Both houses of Parliament will now take up a second reading to consider minor Senate changes to the bill passed in February by the National Assembly. Some conservative senators vowed to continue their opposition to the bill.

“The parliamentary process continues so we will keep talking with the French people who seem to change their position,” said UMP party senator Jean-Pierre Raffarin. “So nothing is definitive and the debate continues.”

Polls have shown a narrow majority of French support legalising gay marriage, though that support falls when questions about adoption and conception of children come into play.

The bill would allow gay marriage and let same-sex couples adopt children. On the campaign trail last year, Mr Hollande pledged to push through such legislation if elected.

French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption or assisted reproduction.