France: We're OK With Gay Marriage ... Right?
Suddenly it's a political hot potato
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2012 6:02 PM CST
In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, right, and his live-in partner Qiyaammudeen Jantjies, who are married in South Africa, sit side-by-side in Sevran, France, outside Paris.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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(Newser) – New French President Francois Hollande rode to victory promising to legalize gay marriage, and with a majority of the public supporting it, what could go wrong? A lot, it turns out: Religious and rural leaders are opposing him, ambitious conservative politicians are piping up, and even his own Socialist ministers are sniping at each other, the AP reports. The result: His "marriage for everyone" law will come later than expected and may get watered down.

The debate exposes a cultural rift in France, where most people at least identify as Catholic, but civil unions remain popular among straight couples as well as gays and lesbians. One possible compromise: Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault favors gay marriage but without medically assisted reproduction like in vitro fertilization. For now, a small majority still supports gay marriage while approval of gay adoption has dipped below 50%. With own popularity declining, Hollande may have to expend more political capital on this than he expected.