By SCOTT SAYARE
Published: April 23, 2013
PARIS — With a definitive vote by the lower house of Parliament, France on Tuesday became the world’s 14th nation, and the third in just two weeks, to approve marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The legislation is expected to be approved by the Constitutional Council and signed into law by President François Hollande in time to allow the country’s first same-sex weddings this summer.
Passage of the “marriage for all” law, sponsored by Mr. Hollande, a Socialist, came after months of sometimes angry debate and a series of major protests, rallies that drew Roman Catholics from France’s rural regions and received the backing of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, as well as the conservative political opposition. Homophobic violence had risen in recent weeks, with a handful of attacks on gay couples reported across the country.
The legislation was approved by a vote of 331 to 225 in the National Assembly, the lower house, where the left holds a strong majority. Eleven legislators from the center and right broke with party lines to support the law, though there were indications that some of those votes may have been cast by mistake. There were 10 abstentions.
“It is a generous text that you’ve voted for today,” Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told legislators on Tuesday evening, calling the law a “very beautiful reform.”
Opposition to the law, which also opens adoption to same-sex couples, remained strong and vocal even after the vote. Members of Parliament from the country’s main opposition party, the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, had earlier announced that they would challenge the legality of the new law before the Constitutional Council, a high court that rules on matters of constitutionality. And organizers for an opposition movement called La Manif Pour Tous, or Protest for All, said they intended to continue to demonstrate.
On Tuesday night, hundreds of demonstrators converged on the National Assembly, where opponents have held daily protests. Several dozen violent protesters, some wearing balaclavas, clashed with the riot police there, French news media reported, but most remained peaceful.
See Also: Gay Star UK: France passes same-sex marriage, adoption