France to Allow Same-Sex Couples to Marry, Adopt in 2013
France’s prime minster announced this week that the country’s gay couples will be allowed to marry and adopt children in 2013, the BBC reported.
Prime Minster Jean-Marc Ayrault made the announcement in Parliament as part of a keynote speech that outlined the new Socialist government’s five-year plan, the article noted. The newly elected president, Francois Hollande, promised that he promised he would legalize same-sex marriage if he was elected.
"In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination," Ayrault said. "Our society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing. The government will respond to that."
The announcement was made just a few days after Paris’ annual Gay Pride parade was held. The French Minister for Families Dominique Bertinotti attended the event and many took his appearance as a symbolic gesture.
A recent poll showed that 6.5 percent of the country’s electorate is gay and only 4.5 percent are practicing Catholics. The BBC also points out that a survey from the beginning of the year found that 63 percent of French citizens support marriage equality and 56 percent believe gay men and woman should be able to adopt children.
If Nicolas Sarkozy (a conservative) had won re-election as president, things could have been every different. He told a French magazine in February that he would not support marriage equality in his re-election platform.
"In troubled times, when our society needs to keep its bearings, I don’t think that it is necessary to blur the image of this essential social institution that is marriage," Sarkozy said. He also told the publication that he does not back civil unions because it would "tend to harm the institution of marriage."
"I know that there exists, in fact, particular situations with men and with women who assume their parental roles perfectly. But they do not lead me to think that it is necessary to inscribe in law a new definition of marriage."
Currently, France recognizes civil solidarity pacts, which are similar to a civil union in the U.S. France will follow several other European countries that have already legalized same-sex marriage, including Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
United Kingdom government officials say they plan to recognize marriage equality in the next few years.