France passed marriage equality legislation through the lower house of parliament who voted 329-to-229 in favor. Parliament also passed the adoption bill for LGBT couples.
“This law is going to extend to all families the protections guaranteed by the institution of marriage,” said Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. “Contrary to what those who vociferate against it say – fortunately they’re in the minority – this law is going to strengthen the institution of marriage.”
As the largest European country to approve marriage equality, France joins other pro-LGBT countries like The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Argentina, Canada, South Africa and nine U.S. states with the addition of the District of Columbia.
The topic has been highly divisive in the past month, with many rallying behind the Roman Catholic Church in a country with deeply devout, traditionalist roots. Over 340,000 people demonstrated against the marriage equality bill by the Eiffel Tower in January. They argued that the marriage equality bill would defy the traditional family structure. Conservative challengers also demanded a debate of nearly 5,000 amendments.
Using the French Revolution motto, “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” Socialists supported marriage equality and considered the conservative’s tactics as stalling and inconsequential. Almost 125,00 marriage bill advocates marched in the capital.
“This law is a first necessary step, a social evolution that benefits society overall. Opening up marriage and adoption to homosexual couples is a very beautiful advance. … It is an emblematic vote, a vote that will mark history,” Socialist representative Corinne Narassiguin said.
Since 1999, civil unions have legal in France. This is a first for LGBT-inclusive adoption laws. The bill will now head to France’s Senate.