French Senate backs same-sex marriage bill

People take part in a protest against gay marriage on April 4, 2013, in front of the French Senate in Paris.

Story highlights

  • French Senate approves a bill that would extend the right to marry to same-sex couples
  • The controversial bill would also allow same-sex couples to adopt
  • The move has been opposed by social conservatives and the Catholic Church
  • The legislation has won wide backing from gay rights advocates

The French Senate approved a controversial bill Friday that would give same-sex couples the rights to marry and adopt.

The lower house has already approved the legislation.

The bill, to which 10 amendments were made in the Senate, must still go through a second reading in the National Assembly and a final reading in the upper house.

The date for those readings has not yet been set.

Minister for the Family Dominique Berinotti told CNN affiliate BFM-TV that the Senate vote was a "beautiful victory."

Same-sex marriage battle in France
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Open Mic: French on same-sex marriage
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Extending the rights to marry and adopt to same-sex couples in France was one of President Francois Hollande's electoral pledges in campaigning last year.

The left, which includes Hollande's governing Socialist Party, dominates the National Assembly, where the bill passed by a large majority in February. The party has only a slim majority in the Senate.

The plan faced stiff opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, other religious groups and social conservatives, with huge numbers turning out for protests in recent weeks.

It won wide backing from gay rights advocates.

The new law would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade.

A law legalizing civil unions was introduced in 1999 in France under a previous Socialist government.

Known in France as the PACS (pacte civil de solidarite), the civil union agreement can be entered into by same-sex or straight couples and confers many but not all of the rights of marriage.

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