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France legalizes gay marriage

May 21, 2013

French President François Hollande has officially signed a bill that will make gay marriage in France legal. With the bill's signing, France is the 14th nation on Earth and the 9th in Europe to legally recognize same-sex marriage. 

"I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption of these marriages," Hollande said after signing the bill into law, The New York Times reported.

A long road to passage
Same sex marriage in France has had been an unexpectedly tough sell in the liberal country,  as those opposed to the change have been protesting throughout the country since early 2013. Backed by the Roman Catholic Church and conservative leadership, opponents have argued that allowing gay marriage and adoption, which the law also provided for, will undermine marriage as the fundamental building block for society, reports the BBC.

The protests have at times turn violent at times  according to the Times, as those who stand opposed to same sex-unions have clashed with police and pro-marriage rights advocates. 

The latest round of protests concluded May 17, 2013, after the national Constitutional Council rejected a claim by the main right-wing opposition UMP party that the law violated France's constitution. The body found that the law did not run contrary to any constitutional principles or infringe on basic rights, liberties or national sovereignty. Thus the court upheld the law, reports the BBC. 

The part of the law that will allow couples to adopt children still remains somewhat unclear. Even supporters of the new legislation have been careful to say that though homosexuals can now freely adopt in France, they must still prove that they will make suitable parents.

A needed victory 
President Hollande made legalizing gay marriage a priority of his administration, as he had promised on the campaign trail to make it happen during his first year in office.  Passing gay marriage despite the vocal opposition is a big win for his administration. 

With gay marriage now law, Hollande will move on to trying to solve France's severe economic problems, reports the Times. The nation officially moved into triple-dip recession just days before the same sex marriage law passed. Hollande is considering drastic changes to the French economic system, such as pension restructuring and spending cuts.

. "As the political environment in France continues to evolve, people can keep in touch with family with an international calling card.

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