179-157: France's Senate Votes to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

By Michael Lambert

Originally published on Advocate.com April 12 2013 12:31 PM ET

After voting earlier this week on a crucial article for passing marriage equality, the French Senate voted early Friday morning to approve a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

The bill will return to France’s National Assembly for a second reading before becoming law, but many in the Republic view this additional session as a technicality since the article legalizing gay marriage will no longer be debated. France would be the world's thirteenth country to legally recognize same-sex marriage and the ninth in Europe.

The road to marriage equality has not been easy, where legislative votes have clearly split along party lines. Right-wing senators stalled the bill’s passage by introducing hundreds of amendments, delaying the final vote. After seven days of prolonged debates, the law finally passed, 179-157.

Justice minister Christiane Taubira said in a speech following the vote that France had taken “another step toward equality” by allowing gays and lesbians to become “full citizens” in the eyes of the law. She, along with France’s president François Hollande, have been long-time supporters of a same-sex marriage law in France and have put the pressure on legislators to pass the bill.

Outside of Congress, street protests both for and against have been large. And a couple walking arm-in-arm were attacked and beaten, with photos of one man's injuries being repeatedly shared online.

Although shaky on the issue of adoption, the French have consistently shown support for gay couples having the right to marry. Civil unions have been legal in France since 1999, for straight and gay couples alike; however, they do not offer the full rights of marriage, like joint adoption.