French Senate Debates Same-Sex Marriage Bill

The entrance to the French Senate in the Palais du Luxembourg. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Stephan Bøgh-Andersen

The entrance to the French Senate in the Palais du Luxembourg.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Stephan Bøgh-Andersen

Debate in the French Senate began Thursday, April 4 on the controversial bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry and, if passed, would be a crucial victory for President François Hollande and his government. The bill already passed in France’s lower parliament back in February with a majority of 329 votes.

Despite this show of support from the government, several groups have staged mass demonstrations to protest gay marriage, one of which had more than 300,000 protesters. The Roman Catholic Church in France has been one of the most vocal advocates against the bill, warning that such a law would erode familial and moral values.

 

However, France’s secular government coupled with the recent passage of progressive policies, particularly for women’s rights, may indicate a changing attitude towards such controversial social issues. Same-sex marriage campaigner, Marc Barronet, agreed in a statement to CNN, stating, “France is a secular society, so it’s very different from other countries where religion plays a large part in the question of marriage.”

While Hollande’s party, Parti Socialiste (PS), currently holds the majority by a wide margin in the French parliament, they only just outnumber the opposition in the Senate, and as a result, the debate may be more contentious. Supporters of the bill, though, are very optimistic.

The Senate is expected to conclude the debate on either April 12 or 13.

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