Marriage equality, which a short time ago appeared inevitiable with France's new socialist government led by Francois Hollande, now appears to be much less of a sure thing, the AP reports:
Now, as the Socialist government prepares to unveil its draft "marriage for everyone" law Wednesday, polls show wavering support for the idea and for the president amid increasingly vocal opposition in this traditionally Catholic country.
And it's not just religious and rural leaders speaking out; top figures within Hollande's own party also are at loggerheads. So the Socialists are dragging their feet, releasing the bill later than planned and delaying parliamentary debate on it until January.
A political hot potato, it has entrenched divisions between urban France, where homosexuality is widely accepted, and rural France, where conservative attitudes hold sway.
Anti-gay noise is being ratched up by rival conservatives as well:
Meanwhile, two prominent conservatives with presidential ambitions are railing against gay marriage as they compete for attention and the leadership of the main opposition party, the UMP. Jean-Francois Cope is calling for mass protests against the Socialists' plans, and Francois Fillon suggested reversing the law if he's elected leader.
All the noise appears to be eroding support for same-sex rights and suggests the bill will be diluted or modified before it reaches a vote. Polls generally still show a majority favour gay marriage, though to a declining degree. And a recent poll by Ifop showed less than half now favour gay adoption, down from more than half in previous polls.