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Topics In the News
 
French Marriage Equality Bill Passes 331-225
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/23/13
Last updated on: 04/23/13
 
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Two young men discuss rising homophobia during the marriage debate.

On April 23, 2013, France's National Assembly decisively passed marriage equality legislation on final reading, 331-225. The historic vote came in the midst of heightened tension and escalating violence on the part of anti-gay opponents of equal rights. Barring a ruling by the Constitutional Council, France will be the 14th nation to extend marriage rights to all of its same-sex couples.

In advance of the vote, Paris police stationed scores of officers and a small battery of water cannons at the National Assembly in order to prevent a repeat of the street violence that has characterized some of the demonstrations against marriage equality. Increased police patrols were also ordered for the city's predominantly gay neighborhoods.

In addition to several highly publicized attacks on gay couples and on gay bars, Socialist deputies have been threatened as a result of their support of equal marriage rights.

Claude Bartolone, the president of the National Assembly, received a threatening letter containing gunpowder. The letter echoed the threat made earlier by Frigide Barjot, the leader of the anti-gay group Manif pour Tous, who said that President Hollande "wants blood" and promised that "He will get it."

Shortly before the vote was taken, a protest broke out in the National Assembly gallery. Bartolene ordered the protesters removed, describing them as "enemies of democracy."

Joe Morgan and Dan Littauer report in Gay Star News that President François Hollande has 15 days to sign the bill into law, though opponents are likely to mount a last-minute appeal to the Constitutional Council. It is believed that such an appeal will not succeed, though it may have the effect of delaying Hollande's signing marriage equality into law by a month.

Dominique Bertinotti, Minister for Family, said that "Even in the event of an appeal to the Constitutional Council, we can consider that [marriage equality] will become law in late June."

On his blog, French gay activist Nicolas Chinadret described the vote as a "natural, if overdue, step forward for France," but added, "it is very sad and somewhat shameful that the country of human rights had to be the one with the most virulent opposition to the move."

"The violence both physical and verbal that we've witnessed have created real wounds that will take much time and effort to be healed."

The news video below reports on the marriage debate and homophobic violence in France.

In the following clip National Assembly President Bartolone orders disruptive protesters removed from the gallery as the vote is about to proceed.

The video below captures the moment that the vote is announced to the cheers of the delegates and vistors.

 
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