Activists cheer as France paves way for gay marriage
PARIS (AFP) - France's National Assembly on Saturday overwhelmingly approved a key piece of legislation that will allow homosexual couples to marry and adopt children, to the delight of gay activists.
Deputies voted 249-97 in favour of Article One of the draft law, which redefines marriage as being a contract between two people rather than necessarily between a man and a woman.
Although the proposed law still faces at least another week of scrutiny before a final vote scheduled for Feb 12, it now looks set to emerge from parliament without delay and undiluted. After months of frenzied debate, the ease with which the law cleared its first major hurdle was welcomed by delighted gay rights activists.
"Things are going well and quickly, which is a relief for us," Nicolas Gougain of the Inter-LGBT lobby group told AFP. "We've never seen so many deputies arguing the case for equality and for the recognition of different kinds of families. We can now look forward to the remainder of the debate calmly. It's fabulous!" But as activists celebrated, tens of thousands of opponents to the law gathered in cities across France on Saturday.