After clearing an important hurdle in the French Senate this morning, a new bill that would allowing nationwide same-sex marriage will likely become law by the end of the summer. After months of demonstrations that have occasionally turned violent, the upper house of the legislature approved the measure with a show of hands on Friday, putting it on track for full approval next month. The bill will also formally legalize adoption by gay and lesbian couples.
The vote came just a couple of days after a disturbing photo of a man beaten in a homophobic attack spread across the Internet and fueled even more anger over the issue. Debate over the bill has ignited furious protests on both sides of the aisle since January, and supporters of same-sex marriage say that violent attacks against gay people are on the rise as a result. Wilfred de Bruijn and his boyfriend were beaten by a group of men outside their home last Sunday, and the photo of de Bruijn's battered face become a rallying symbol for the pro-equality forces. De Bruijn suffered five facial fractures and a broken tooth after the men yelled, "Hey, look they're gays"—and then attacked them.
The bill will return to the lower house for a technical reading and and a few minor adjustments, but since it was already approved there once, and the Socialist party that backed the bill has a large majority, it should sail through. The next vote won't happen until the end of May, but once it does, the law would take effect almost immediately thereafter.
Once the bill is finally approved, France would join its neighbors, Spain, Belgium, and Luxembourg among the 11 nations that allow full same-sex marriage rights.