Last night, after more than ten hours of debate, the French Senate passed marriage equality on a vote of 179-157. While a few more steps remain, this vote was the most critical hurdle for the freedom to marry; now that it’s been cleared, it’s all but assured that same-sex marriage is coming to France.
The article voted on by the Senate last night is the marriage equality provision of the marriage and adoption equality bill that passed France’s National Assembly in February. According to John Aravosis of AMERICAblog, the way things work in France is that the law gets broken up into its component parts and each is voted on individually.
BuzzFeed‘s Chris Geidner reports that the Senate is expected to wrap up voting on the remaining articles, including the adoption equality provision, by the end of the week. Once that happens, the Senate votes once more on the bill in its entirety. The only way last night’s vote would not be the final word on marriage equality is if the Senate rejects the entire bill in this final vote. However, since the marriage equality article was by far the bill’s most controversial portion and the Senate passed it without any changes, this possibility is considered extremely remote.
President François Hollande pledged during his presidential campaign last year to pass a law allowing same-sex couples in France to marry and adopt children in 2013. His Socialist Party controls both the National Assembly and the Senate, and Socialist lawmakers have carried the measure through both chambers. All of the Socialists in the Senate voted in favor of marriage equality, and five members of France’s right-wing UMP Party also crossed over and voted to support the measure.
If the bill passes its final Senate vote later this month as expected, it will go to Hollande, who will sign it into law.
While the exact date is unclear, it looks like same-sex couples will be able to marry in France sometime this summer. France will become the world’s 12th nation to enshrine full marriage equality into law. Marriage equality also enjoys majority support among the French people.
After the historic vote, Socialist Party president François Rebsamen said:
Despite attempts at obstruction from the right, the Senate has adopted Article 1 which allows same-sex couples to marry. The adoption of this article by a vote of the entire Senate majority, puts an end to the discrimination that resulted from sexual choices of citizens.
Given the abuses that took place either by manifestations of violence in the street, either by verbal excesses in the chamber, the vote on this article marks a victory for the fight against homophobia, that of tolerance and democracy.
The fact that last night’s vote happened despite an aggressively homophobic campaign against the law by France’s Catholic bishops and the U.S.-based National Organization for Marriage makes this pro-equality victory even sweeter.
Barring the unforeseen, marriage equality is coming to the land of liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Vive la France!