The French Senate took a major step toward embracing marriage equality late Tuesday, when it approved an article establishing gender-neutral language to refer to spouses by a margin of 179-157, according to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.
Tuesday's vote, which concluded ten hours of debate, clears the way for final approval of marriage equality legislation in France. France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved the legislation in February by a vote of 329-229.
Although additional articles in the legislation will be debated and voted upon through the weekend, advocates believed Tuesday's vote on Article 1 to be the most substantial hurdle to passing marriage equality in France. Additional articles relate to allowing same-sex couples to adopt and access additional rights of marriage, and must be voted on individually.
Despite sizable protests in opposition, the bill is now expected to pass the Senate, and be signed into law by French president Francois Hollande, reports SDGLN. Hollande campaigned on a promise to pass marriage equality legislation, supported by the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and the ruling Socialist Party.
U.S. advocacy groups lauded the vote in favor of equality.
"France is poised to become the latest country --16 on four continents -- where loving and committed gay couples can share in the freedom to marry, and it won't be the last this year," said Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson in a statement. "Like France, the United States extols liberty, equality, and fairness; it is time for our country, too, to end the denial of marriage and live up to our best values."
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