The French government has approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to get married and adopt children.
The bill, which declares marriage to be "between two people of different sexes or of the same sex," was passed today by President François Hollande's Socialist cabinet, in line with his campaign promise.
The next step is to get parliament to give its approval. According to Agence France-Presse, lawmakers will debate the bill in January.
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It is expected to face opposition both from religious leaders and the political right, Radio France International says.
Led by France's Catholic Church, numerous Christian, Muslim and Jewish clerics are campaigning vigorously against the bill, RFI reports. Meanwhile some – though not all – members of the main center-right opposition party, the UMP, say they would overturn the legislation if their party returns to power.
More than 1,000 mayors have already signed a petition against changing the definition of marriage, the BBC reported. (In France, all couples must wed in a civil ceremony performed by a mayor in order for the marriage to be official.)
Under current law, France allows gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil unions but not to marry – and only married couples are allowed to adopt.
The Socialists have already attempted to extend marriage rights once before, in 2011 while they were still in opposition. That attempt was blocked in a parliamentary vote.
According to a recent poll by IFOP, 65 percent of French people surveyed said they were in favor of gay marriage and 53 percent of gay couples' right to adopt.
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