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Marriage Equality Likely in France Next Year

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Aug 29, 2012
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Same-sex couples in France could legally tie the knot in 2013. France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed on Saturday that the country’s government officials plan to introduce legislation that would legalize gay marriage, UPI reported.

"In October, we will send a bill to the National Assembly and the Senate to allow same-sex couples to marry," Ayrault told fellow Socialist Party members last weekend. "It would also allow them to form families and adopt children."

If the measure passes through Parliament, as looks likely, France will become the ninth country in Europe to recognize marriage equality. Currently, same-sex couples can enter into civil soliderity pacts, which are a form of registered domestic partnerships, similar to civil unions in parts of the United States. Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain have all legalized gay marriage.

In July, Ayrault made a similar announcement in Parliament and said same-sex couples would be able to get married and adopt by 2013, EDGEreported. The remarks were made days after Paris held its annual Gay Pride parade.

"In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination," Ayrault said. "Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing. The government will respond to that."

According to Dot429, 63 percent of French citizens support marriage equality. An overwhelming majority of students in their twenties are in full support of gay marriage. The site reports that their support has impacted French movies, literature and media depictions. But French citizens over the age of 35 feel differently; most see marriage "as a religious commitment."

The Roman Catholic hierarchy in France strongly oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. Clergy used Assumption Day (August 15), the Catholic holiday that celebrates the Virgin’s ascent in Heaven and widely celebrated in France, to urge politicians to protect traditional marriage, the Associated Press reported. Reuters notes that a number of clergy in churches across the country instituted a special prayer for traditional marriage in hopes the French government would not advance the pro-gay marriage bill.

"The church wants a debate about social reforms that are coming soon and that really worry us," Monsignor Bernard Podvin, spokesman for the bishops’ conference, told media. "This prayer does not exclude anyone," he said.

LGBT rights organizations opposed the church’s prayer. "This message is fertile ground for discrimination and homophobia," said Michael Bouvard of the group SOS Homophobia.

According to Reuters, the prayer includes language that children should "cease to be objects of the desires and conflicts of adults and fully benefit from the love of a father and a mother." But some priests refused to read the prayer and French media showed some Catholics leaving Mass when it was read.

The Roman Catholic Church was once the most powerful institution in the country after the monarchy and one of the cornerstones of the church itself. But after the Revolution, it lost much of its influence. France has long been considered a mostly secular nation, although the church’s schools still receive substantial public assistance.

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