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French Parliament Approves Key Clause in Gay Marriage Bill

Opponents to gay marriage, adoption and procreation assistance attend a demonstration in Marseille February 2, 2013.
France has moved a step closer to becoming one of about 12 countries to legalize same-sex marriage.

The French parliament, on Saturday, overwhelmingly approved a key article of a reform bill that would allow same-sex marriages and also allow gay couples to adopt children.

The measure approved by the National Assembly defines marriage as an agreement between two people, rather than between a man and a woman.

The assembly will now consider hundreds of amendments that have been presented for the reform bill. The debate is expected to last several weeks.

President Francois Hollande made same-sex marriage reform a key part of his election campaign. However, the issue has sparked massive demonstrations by both opponents and supporters.

Opinion polls indicate a majority of French citizens support the legalization of same-sex marriages, while a smaller percentage approve of gay adoptions.