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French Presidential Contender Calls For Gay Marriage
by Newscenter Staff

June 20, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Paris) The leading contender for the Socialist Party nomination to run for President in 2007 has come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

"Opening up marriage to same-sex couples is needed in the name of equality, visibility and respect," Segolene Royal tells the LGBT publication Tetu in this week's edition. She said that if her party forms the next government she will introduce a gay marriage bill.

"It is essential that everybody has equal rights and dignities and the chance to express themselves freely."

Royal also told the publication that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt.

She becomes the first high ranking politician in France to support both marriage and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples. In the past Royal has supported limited partner benefits but opposed adoption.

Public opinion polls show she has wide support for the nomination but she has been controversial.

Royal has four children but has never wed their father, Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande. Royal has labeled marriage a "bourgeois' institution".

President Jacques Chirac's ruling conservative UMP party opposes both gay marriage and adoption and only begrudgingly agreed several years ago to grant limited rights to gay and lesbian couples.  

In 2004 the mayor of a small community in southwestern France performed France's first gay marriage but it was quickly annulled by the government in Paris.

The UMP was just as quick Monday to pounce on Royal's support for gay marriage reiterating the government's opposition to same-sex unions. 

But French public opinion appears to be with Royal.  A poll released earlier this month shows that about 60 percent of the population favors same-sex marriage.

© 2006

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