“The idea of the government is to be able to send messages [to voters] on economic and welfare issues but also to send messages on social issues, which are issues that are associated with the left wing,” Ms. Bracq says. “Now, is this a good idea to do this so quickly? In terms of public opinion, probably not.”
Though same-sex couples have had access to a form of civil union created in 1999 called Pacs, which stands for Pact of Civil Solidarity, the unveiling of the bill comes after a series of declarations by some mayors saying they would refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies if the law was passed. The Catholic Church, which has had a historically influential role in France, is also heavily criticizing the government’s project.
The right-wing opposition UMP party has made it clear it will not support the bill.
Jean-Frédéric Poisson, a national lawmaker of the UMP party and the Christian-Democratic Party opposing the bill, has called for a national referendum on the issue and says the government has underestimated the bill’s potential for controversy.
“I believe the debate is starting to take off and the government probably didn’t imagine at the beginning of this operation that this debate would grow,” Mr. Poisson says. “It probably thought that it was a done deal, that the public opinion was, indeed, largely in favor of it and that no problem would be posed by this project. And that’s just not the case.”
A Nov. 3 survey by BVA Opinion showed a sharp decline in the support for gay marriage and adoption among the population compared with 2011. However, a majority of those surveyed were still in favor of the measures.