The French Council of Ministers [official website, in French] approved a draft bill [press release] Wednesday providing same-sex couples with the right to marry. The bill extends the rights of marriage, including adoption rights, to same-sex couples living in France without altering current legal marriage and adoptive relationships. The bill was pushed forward by President Francois Hollande [official website, in French] despite becoming a controversial issue. During his campaign, the president's support for same-sex marriage received wide backing, but his efforts have met opposition from religious leaders and the conservative opposition. In October Pope Benedict XVI [official profile] urged French priests to oppose the bill. On Sunday in Lourdes, Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois [profile] preached in favor of traditional marriage [Telegraph report], claiming heterosexual parents are necessary for a child's development. As a result, support for the bill in the largely Catholic country has wavered. The bill will be sent to the legislature for final approval early next year. Last year the French National Assembly rejected a bill [JURIST report] that would have legalized same-sex marriage. France's Constitutional Council [official website, in French] also dealt a blow to same-sex marriage supporters last year, ruling [JURIST report] that a ban on same-sex marriage did not violate the constitution.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] rights remain controversial around the world. On Tuesday voters in Maine and Maryland approved [JURIST report] bills legalizing same-sex marriage within those states. Maine and Maryland join six states, as well as the District of Columbia, in extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. Also Tuesday Spain's Constitutional Court denied an appeal challenging the constitutionality of Spain's same-sex marriage law, and the Slovakian parliament rejected [JURIST reports] a proposal recognizing same-sex marriage rights.