PARIS — The Socialist majority French government on Wednesday approved a draft law to that would legalize same-sex marriage and gay adoption, despite fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and its right wing supporters in the Senate and the National Assembly.
President Francois Hollande, who had made the issue a key part of his campaign platform, told cabinet ministers that the legislative effort was “not only a step forward for some, but for all of French society.”
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who serves as Minister of Women’s Rights and Chief Government spokesperson, said the proposed legislation “resolutely takes into account the greater interest of the child.”
French Minister of Family Affairs, Dominique Bertinnoti, rejected criticism that the move would “destroy” the family, arguing that, “on the contrary it is a legal protection.”
“This is an important step towards the equality of rights,” Bertinnoti said.
Hollande said that he is committed to the law being in effect by mid-2013.
Vallaud-Belkacem also noted that there were discussions to include state funding for artificial insemination for gay couples in the final version of the law.
Opposition to the measure is fierce in a nation that, while is officially secular, is predominantly Catholic. There is also an array of other religious groups — Muslim, Protestant and Jewish organizations — who are in opposition to the measure.
The Cardinal of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, told parishioners last weekend that children needed both a father and a mother to build their identities.
“When we defend the right of children to build their personality with reference to the man and the woman who gave them life, we are not defending a particular position,” he said.
Jean-Francois Cope of the conservative UMP party, has urged the government to postpone the draft bill saying it was “incredibly badly prepared,” adding, “It is not just about homosexual marriage, it is about a complete reorganization, deconstruction of the right of the family, with questions surrounding lineage, the removal of the reference to father and mother in the text.”
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, has called for a popular vote on gay marriage and adoption. Hundreds of French mayors and other local politicians signed a petition opposing the President’s proposed draft law.
Polls suggest that up to two-thirds of French voters support marriage equality for gays and lesbians, but there is less support on allowing them to adopt children.