The French National Assembly, the lower house of France’s Parliament has voted in favour of making same-sex marriage legal.
The vote held on Saturday morning was 249 in favour with 97 deputies voting against. The majority of the support for the bill came from the left, with many centrist and conservative deputies from the UMP voting against making marriage equal.
Deputies voted on article one of the bill that redefines marriage as being an agreement between two people rather than just between a man and a woman. They also voted to open up adoption to same-sex married couples.
The vote follows months of debate and controversy over the issue of equal marriage and gay adoption. Further votes on the issue will continue until the 12th February 2013.
In what was perceived as an attempt to appease opponents to the bill, the government dropped medically assisted reproduction for lesbian couples, from the country’s upcoming bill to legalise marriage equality.
It also dropped other areas of the bill, which redefined marriage as “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex”.
Polls show a majority of French voters support marriage equality, but it has divided the country’s left and right, with lawmakers from the conservative UMP denouncing the measure.
An Ifop poll last Saturday showed a rise in support for equal marriage, which had risen to 63%.
Starting late in 2012, there have been several large-scale demonstrations both for and against equal marriage.
The previous week, a ‘March for All’ attracted an estimated 340,000 to 800,000 people to the Champs-de-Mars to oppose marriage equality. The organisers were handed a €100,000 bill to clean up the area by the city’s gay mayor.
When he approved the bill, the same day that three US states – Maine, Maryland and Washington – legalised equal marriage, President Hollande told his cabinet that it would mean “progress not only for individuals but for the whole of society”.
President Hollande made an election campaign pledge to extend full marriage rights to gay couples.