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France legalizes gay marriage after harsh debate

By Lori Hinnant & Sylvie Corbet

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:02 a.m. HST, Apr 23, 2013

PARIS » France legalized gay marriage today after a wrenching national debate and protests that flooded the streets of Paris. Legions of officers and water cannon stood ready near France's National Assembly ahead of the final vote, bracing for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country's faltering conservative movement.

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage.

"Only those who love democracy are here," Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, said angrily.

In recent weeks, violent attacks against gay couples have spiked and some legislators have received threats — including Bartelone, who got a gunpowder-filled envelope on Monday.

One of the biggest protests against same-sex marriage drew together hundreds of thousands of people bused in from the French provinces — conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests and others. That demonstration ended in blasts of tear gas, as right-wing rabble-rousers, some in masks and hoods, led the charge against police, damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue and making a break for the presidential palace.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told lawmakers that the first weddings could be as soon as June.

"We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they'll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families," she said.

When President Francois Hollande promised to legalize gay marriage, it was seen as relatively uncontroversial. But the issue has become a touchstone as his popularity has sunk to unprecedented lows, largely over France's ailing economy.

But the most visible face in the fight against gay marriage — a former comedienne who goes by the name of Frigide Barjot — said the movement named "A Protest for Everyone" will continue beyond the law's passage and possibly field candidates in 2014 municipal elections. She said anyone involved in protest violence would be marginalized, but blamed the government for its failure to listen.

"The violence comes from the way in which this was imposed," Barjot told France Info radio.

French conservatives, decimated by infighting and the election loss of standard-bearer Nicolas Sarkozy, had found a rallying cause in same-sex marriage. Hoping to keep the issue alive, the conservative UMP party planned to challenge the law in the Constitutional Council.

French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption, and the strongest opposition in France as far as same-sex couples goes comes when children are involved. According to recent polls, just over half of French are opposed to adoption by same-sex couples — about the same number who said they favored same-sex marriage.

Christophe Crepin, spokesman for the police union UNSA, says the extraordinary security today includes a total of about 4,000 officers in the area near the National Assembly building and water cannon positioned nearby. One group of anti-riot police swarmed the banks of the Seine River about a quarter-mile from the legislature, hours before protests were scheduled there.

France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. On the cover of today's Liberation newspaper, the famed gay photographers Pierre and Gilles took over the front page and several of the inside pages, splashing them with some of their most provocative photos, including one of three soccer players — nude but for the footwear — facing the camera.

In New Zealand, where gay marriage enjoys popular support, people gathered outside Parliament and joined in singing a traditional Maori love ballad after a vote last week making it legal. Nine states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not.

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Bdpapa wrote:
Open the flood gates!
on April 23,2013 | 08:36AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Bonne Chance France! Congratulations also to New Zealand and Uruguay who also joined the ranks of marriage equality in the last couple of weeks.
on April 23,2013 | 09:07AM
daniwitz13 wrote:
HOMOSEXUALS ARE A FRAUD. Don’t believe me? Just ask yourself, am I able to pick one out in a crowd. In a crowd of 100, two should be Homosexuals, would you know which two? You would be good if you could because even Parents could not tell that their Child was Gay. Married couples for years and with Children finally come “out” and tell their spouse that they are Gay. Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon News Casters for years, unknown to all until they come “out” and “claim” that they are gay. NFL retired Player Harris, now comes “out” and “claims” he is Gay. Surprise, surprise, they have to “out” themselves to be known. Doesn’t this tell you that Homosexuality is then, an Unknown? Psychologist will document that Homosexuality exists, but cannot provide valid proof that it is in a particular Person. It is a condition that could be lied about and no method to validate it at any time, especially in Court. There are No known methods to find it, define it or determine that he is one, only his word. In Hawaii, on a Bed and Breakfast case, they “claimed” to be Gay and discriminated against and won their case. They gave no proof to the Court that they were Gay and the Courts never asked for proof, therefore took their “word” for it. So with no proof, they won. Does it make any sense to have a person sue you by telling the Court that they are something but have no proof that they are? Wouldn’t you want the Courts to ask the person suing you to provide proof that they are really Gays. The truth though is that it can never be proven. But, if that is true and that there is no way to prove it, how can Govt. make Laws recognizing it? Protecting it? Providing Rights and Benefits? Well, that is where the Fraud that I mentioned comes in. It seems that slowly by slowly, Homosexuality has worked its way into the fabric of Society, unnoticed by the General public, Govt. and Courts. No proof or verification is necessary for something so acceptable by Society, although detrimental to it. Why bother with proof when the Constitution is not bothered with? Who cares if people can lie and give no proof of who they are and get Millions from the Govt. and Citizens. The Govt. don’t care, the Courts don’t care and the President of the United States don’t care, so why should anyone care? After all, it is only your tax money, why bother? If you were sued for Millions by someone that “claims” to be a Vegetarian, wouldn’t you make them prove to the Court that Vegetables run through their blood and Veins or a documented test that can verify a Person IS a Vegetarian? Just eating Vegetables in not proof. But then, why not ask the same for Homosexuals? That Homosexuality is in their Blood or something? A documented proof. Loving or living with, is not Proof. But as I’ve pointed out, no proof is given and no proof is asked. WHY? Most Judges will ask to see your Papers for proof of what you claim. An expert to verify with test results to satisfy the Court. But again, not for Homosexuality. WHY? Can you imagine Courts with no proof or evidence? Well, wonder no more, Gays give no proof, not asked for proof and frankly cannot provide any proof. But Justice is no where in sight and our survival will be out of sight in the Future. But do remember always, you allowed it to continue and took no stand against it. I’m taking my stand with this comment.
on April 23,2013 | 10:50AM
hawaiikone wrote:
long, but true.
on April 23,2013 | 07:57PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
on April 23,2013 | 10:53AM
hawaiikone wrote:
on April 24,2013 | 07:08AM
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