PARIS, April 12, 2013 ( – The French Senate gave final approval this morning to legislation permitting same-sex couples to “marry” and adopt children. Several amendments were made to the text approved by the National Assembly in February, making a second reading necessary in the National Assembly.

Only hours after the vote, the government unexpectedly announced that the legislation will return to the Assembly next Wednesday, five weeks before the intended schedule. It is considered likely that only limited time will be allowed for discussion of the text and the government is apparently hoping that the amended articles will be passed without further changes, making subsequent legislative procedures unnecessary.

The law’s main articles legalizing same-sex “marriage” and adoption were passed earlier this week by the Senate exactly as worded by the National Assembly, and will most probably not even be discussed during the second reading. LGBT organizations have already sent out victory signs.


The accelerated schedule is being seen as a feverish reaction by president Hollande’s socialist government to growing discontent in France, not only over the same-sex “marriage” law but also in response to the deepening economic crisis and multiple scandals over alleged tax evasion by the recently demoted Budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac. The minister was forced to admit to owning an undeclared Swiss bank account.

Outrage is growing and Parliament could be dissolved in the coming weeks: adoption of the same-sex “marriage” “Taubira law” – named after the French Justice minister – is being treated as a priority.

But the government is probably also trying to short-circuit popular opposition to the law. After two major demonstrations in January and on March 24th, when close to 1.5 million people took to the streets in Paris to say “no” to same-sex “marriage”, a third and hopefully even larger demonstration was announced a few days ago and is – or was – to take place on May 26th, coinciding with what was expected to be the time of the law’s second reading. Now, with likely only five days to go before final passage, the organization of a nation-wide protest in Paris will be far more difficult.

The “Taubira law” was originally expected to have a hard time in the Senate. The left – socialists, radical, leftwingers, Greens and communists – has only a slim majority in the high chamber with only 6 more votes than the centrist and “conservative” opposition. A small number of Socialist and radical senators, including some hailing from more traditionally-minded French overseas territories, had announced they would vote against or at least abstain.

If the “right” had unanimously voted against same-sex “marriage”, the text would have been easily defeated, making passage of the law much more difficult and lengthy. On the political side, it would have been seen as public disavowal of François Hollande and his policies and in the present context would have given the opposition a substantial advantage.

But the text was finally adopted because several centrist and UMP (ex-president Sarkozy’s party) voted in favor, giving it an unexpected head-start at the beginning of the week when debates over the successive articles took place.

On Thursday the UMP negotiated several times with the socialist group in order to shorten the procedure, many senators hoping to get home in time for the weekend. It was even first suggested that the vote on the complete text would take place this morning at 2 a.m. When this was announced the “Manif pour tous”, the mainstream organization against gay “marriage”, organized a demonstration in front of the Senate where – as on every evening since Thursday of last week – the traditionalist group Civitas organized public prayers against the law.

At last a “gentlemen’s agreement” was reached by the UMP and the socialist party to speed up discussions on the several hundred amendments put forward by the opposition and to adopt the text by Friday afternoon. Things went even more quickly than expected in the Senate as many senators didn’t bother to show up for the final debate.

The vote was an informal affair and the text was adopted by a show of hands by 10:30, local time.

The exact count will probably never be known. Absentee senators are now asking for the Journal Officiel – the official Gazette – to publish their voting intentions so that their position may be known. But the French electorate is now aware that legislators have elected to pass a law symbolizing a “change of civilization”, as Christiane Taubira remarked when presenting the text.

Based on events of the past few weeks, it is expected that opponents to the text are going to accelerate their public opposition. Since the major demonstration on March 24th, which was studiously ignored by Hollande and his government, sporadic demonstrations and other events have been taking place every day.

Not a single minister, secretary of state or other representative of the government has paid an official visit anywhere in France without being met by large groups of people with flags and official sweat-shirts of the “Manif pour tous” shouting: “François, ta loi on n’en veut pas” (François, we don’t want your law). Official visits have repeatedly been cancelled.

A group of opponents went to wake the pro-gay “marriage” opposition senator Chantal Jouanno, bringing coffee, croissants and flowers with them for a noisy demonstration in the street under her Paris apartment windows. They were taken to a police station for several hours because – they were told – it is forbidden to have breakfast in the street except on the yearly “Neighbor’s feast”.

Others organized picnics and egg-hunts in the public gardens at the foot of the Luxembourg palace which houses the Senate, wearing the “Manif pour tous” sweat-shirt which displays the opposition’s logo: a father, a mother and two children. They received tickets for organizing an “unauthorised recreational manifestation”, after a policeman tried – unsuccessfully, owing to their hilarious reaction – to fine them for wearing “indecent apparel”.

On Thursday a man walking in the Luxembourg gardens with the “Manif” sweatshirt was carried out onto the street by half a dozen policemen for wearing apparel linked to public opposition to the “Taubira law”.

Another group was accused of “vandalism” and “extremism” for having organized a short protest in front of a venue for the yearly meeting of LGBT associations and plastering anti-gay “marriage” posters on the glass doors of the building.

Last week, a French military officer was stopped by the “gendarmes” (military police force) near the Senate after having participated in a demonstration and told he could not walk along the Luxembourg garden’s railings with his French flag unfurled. He protested, telling them that he had served that flag in Afghanistan and that they, as fellow officers, had no right to prevent a French soldier to carry his flag publicly. They said they were sorry but added that they could not disobey orders.

The officer decided to take another route so as not to be forced to furl the flag.