France's National Assembly has approved the first article of a bill that will allow gay couples to marry and adopt children.
According to the Australian Associated Press, deputies voted 249-97 on Saturday in favor of redefining marriage as an agreement between two people rather than between a man and a woman.
The law still faces more than a week of discussion in parliament before it will go to a final vote on February 12, reported Agence France-Presse. The article that passed Saturday was supported by deputies from the majority ruling Socialist Party, as well as others from the Green and leftist parties, and one member of the center-right UMP.
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"We are happy and proud to have taken this first step," Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told AFP. "We are going to establish the freedom for everyone to choose his or her partner for a future together."
But not everybody agrees.
"Today it is marriage and adoption. Tomorrow it will be medically assisted conception and surrogate mothers," said UMP deputy Philippe Gosselin.
According to BBC News, the same-sex marriage and adoption proposals have caused protests across France for months. Opinion polls have said 55 to 60 percent of the French support gay marriage, but only 50 percent support gay adoption.