Gay marriage has won in France.
The process is a bit more complicated than that, but in essence, gay marriages will be legal in France by this summer (it’s not entirely clear what date). But it looks like the law itself should be done by the end of May.
Here’s what just happened.
The gay marriage law already passed the French Assembly. Now it’s in the Senate.
The French Senate just voted on the most important provision of the proposed gay marriage law, and passed it. That means we’ve basically won – this was the biggest remaining hurdle, and we surmounted it. But there are still a few more steps before gay marriage is legal.
Apparently, the way it works over there — and I’ve been conversing with a friend in Paris via Facebook for the blow-by-blow — the law is broken up into its component parts. And each part of the law gets voted on individually.
In this case, the marriage part just got voted on and passed.
The next step is for the other parts of the law to be voted on (it’s almost like voting on amendments, to put it in American parlance). Anti-gay conservatives have offered hundred of amendments, and the bill has two dozen sections, each needing a vote – so it could be a month or more until it finally “finally” passes the Senate.
Then, once all the parts are voted on, the Senate will one more time vote on the ENTIRE thing. But since they already voted in favor of the gay marriage portion of the law, passage of the entire pack is all but assured, I’m told.
Interestingly, though the majority of right-wing Senators voted against us, there were some defections. My friend tells me we got more votes than we anticipated.
After the Senate is done voting on the whole package, it goes back to the Assembly to be promulgated – but that’s basically a formality. Since the Senate didn’t amend the law, as it was passed by the Assembly, it doesn’t have to go back to the Assembly for another vote. (Though a second French contact said the bill had been altered slightly – still, no one is expecting votes to change in the Assembly, where we already won.)
Also, because the constitutional council (conseil constitutionnel) has already said it will abide by whatever the legislature passes, there’s no concern about it striking down the proposed law.
So the big hurdle that remained was passing the specific gay marriage provision tonight in the French Senate, and it passed. So now we wait – and unless there are any surprises, and none are expected, marriages of gay couples will be legalized in France by this summer.
Vive la France. Vive la liberté.
PS Only twenty-four hours later, Uruguay’s parliament has legalized gay marriage in that country. The President has promised to sign the law. It should go into effect by April 20 or so.