France’s first lady crashes gay wedding debate
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While the debate over a proposed bill to legalise gay marriage rages on in France, first lady Valérie Trierweiler announced Tuesday that she would happily serve as a witness for a same-sex wedding ceremony as soon as the law is on the books.
French first lady Valérie Trierweiler has stamped her personal seal of approval on plans to legalise gay marriage, telling French media that she would serve as a witness at one of the first such ceremonies in the country.
"I'm delighted that I'm going to be a witness at one of the very first marriages for all," the first lady told RTL radio on Tuesday, referring to the bill that the ruling Socialist government has dubbed the “Marriage and Adoption For All” law.
Trierweiler, who is the longtime partner of, but not married to, President François Hollande, said she had already accepted invitations to participate in two future weddings for gay friends.
Hollande appears determined to push through his campaign promise of extending marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples, but he has faced at times bitter opposition from Catholic bishops and opposition groups.
On November 19, thousands marched in Paris and in most of France’s big cities to protest the Socialist-backed legislation.
The following day, opponents of same-sex marriage clashed with members of the Ukrainian Femen movement, with several of the pro-gay marriage women hit, kicked and sprayed with Mace.
Hollande attempted to appease opponents late last month by saying mayors would not be forced to preside over same-sex marriages if they went against their personal beliefs, but then quickly backtracked on the idea after facing a new round of criticism.
The leader of the main opposition UMP party, Jean-François Copé, has called on supporters to participate in a nationwide rally against the proposed bill on January 13.
That prompted Paris city Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, who is gay, to call for a rally in support of same-sex marriage on January 16 in the French capital.
Hollande's cabinet approved the draft bill on November 7 and debate on the proposal is set to begin in the first week of February at the National Assembly, France's lower house.