France's new Socialist government campaigned on a promise of marriage equality and released a timetable to legalize same-sex marriage by July 2013. Opposition from religious leaders has forced the government to slightly delay the parliamentary debate, reports the AP.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault first named Oct. 31 as the date when government ministers would present the law, insisting there would be no backtracking. But his office said Friday that this date has been pushed back to Nov. 7. And the debate in parliament is now expected to last until January.
On Thursday, France's Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim joined other religious leaders in opposing the plans, while more than 1,200 French mayors and their deputies have signed a petition protesting them.
November 7 is the day after the United States' election, btw.
France currently provides only for same-sex civil unions. A law granting full marriage status to gay and lesbian couples would bring France into line with fellow EU members Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.
In addition to the EU members listed above, the following nations mandate marriage equality: Argentina, Canada, Iceland, Norway and South Africa. Mexico City also grants same-sex marriage. Uruguay and Finland may soon join the list.
President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's government has also appointed Europe's most diverse cabinet. Sixteen of 34 ministers are women. Three ministers are Black, including Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, the highest ranking Black cabinet official ever in French government.