BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — By a vote of 331 to 225, National Assembly lawmakers voted in favour of legalizing gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples after months of highly contentious debate and violent confrontations on the streets — even in the parliamentary chamber, France24 reports.
According to the report, the vote, which makes France the 14th country in the world to green-light gay marriage, was greeted with both "wild cheering" and jeers by those gathered outside the Assembly.
Today's vote is the culmination of a months-long saga marked by multiple protests that brought thousands — both for and against the Socialist government's bill — into the streets of Paris and other cities. Gay rights activists reported an increase in anti-gay incidents as the final, fast-tracked vote drew closer, while French MPs also exchanged blows in one of the last time-limited debates on the measure. On the eve of the vote, Assembly speaker Claude Bartolone received ammunition powder and a threatening letter calling — unsuccessfully as it turns out — for Tuesday’s vote to be delayed.
Still, the National Assembly thumbs-up vote is unlikely to deter opponents who have promised to continue the fight against the legislation despite its passage.
Opposition to the bill has been led predominantly by the Catholic
Church and the political right, but leaders of almost all the major
faiths in France have publicly opposed the bill.
France24 notes that some lawmakers have indicated they would request that France’s Constitutional Council review the law; others promised to work to repeal it when conservatives become a majority in parliament again. Anti-gay-marriage leaders are also considering running in future mayoral elections, the report says.
President François Hollande, who made the legislation a keystone of
his program for social reform, is poised to sign the measure into law
once it clears any challenge in the constitutional council, which is unlikely to block it, the BBC reports.
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira predicts that the first weddings could take place in June.
In an impassioned speech in favour of gay marriage and adoption before the National Assembly on Jan 29, Taubira said, "It is hypocrisy to refuse to recognize these gay couples and their children . . . and it is selfish to think that one of the Republic’s institutions could be reserved for a category of citizens."
She added, “Your children and grandchildren already recognize these couples and families and will do so more and more. You will be very uncomfortable when, out of curiosity, they read the transcripts of these debates.”
In the aftermath of Tuesday's vote, Taubira said, "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."