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French Senate passes same-sex marriage bill

PARIS -- The French Senate voted yesterday to legalize same-sex marriage in France, putting a landmark bill on track to become law by summer.

The vote in the upper house of Parliament -- led by President Francois Hollande's Socialists -- comes despite boisterous protests. Opponents, mostly conservatives and fervent Roman Catholics, have sought to defend traditional marriage.

France's justice minister, one of the bill's loudest supporters, said the action recognizes that many children already are living with same-sex parents and deserve the same protections afforded children of opposite-sex parents.

"These are children that scrape their knees, eat too much candy, don't like broccoli, drive you crazy . . . we protect them," Christine Taubira told senators following the vote.

Both houses of Parliament will now take up a second reading to consider minor changes. Some conservative senators vowed to continue their opposition to the bill.

Polls have shown a narrow majority of French support legalizing gay marriage, though that support falls when questions about adoption and conception of children come into play.

The bill would allow gay marriage and let same-sex couples adopt children. French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption or assisted reproduction.-- AP

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