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'I do?' Opposition dogs French gay marriage plans (with Q&A about marriage and adoption)

BY THOMAS ADAMSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS

PARIS -- A plan to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt was a liberal cornerstone of Francois Hollande's election manifesto earlier this year. It looked like a shoo-in for the French President, supported by a majority of the country, and an easy way to break with his conservative predecessor. But that was then.

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 himself amid increasingly vocal opposition in this majority Catholic country.

And it's not just religious and rural leaders speaking out; top figures within Hollande's own party also are at loggerheads over the plan. The Socialists are now dragging their feet, releasing the bill later than planned and delaying parliamentary debate on it until January.

The political hot potato has exposed divisions between urban France, where homosexuality is widely accepted, and the rural heartland, where conservative attitudes hold sway.

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Questions and answers about gay marriage, adoption

Q: WHAT COUNTRIES HAVE LEGALIZED GAY MARRIAGE?

A: The Netherlands (2001); Belgium (2003); Spain and Canada (2005); South Africa (2006); Norway (2008); Sweden (2009); Argentina, Iceland, Portugal (2010); Denmark (2012).

Q: HAVE OTHER PLACES LEGALIZED GAY MARRIAGE?

A: In the United States, a law prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriage, but six states have legalized it - Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont - as have the District of Columbia and two Native American tribal jurisdictions. Mexico City also recognizes gay marriage, although Mexico as a whole doesn't.

Q: WHAT ABOUT ADOPTION FOR GAY COUPLES?

A: Gay couples can legally adopt in all of the countries that have legalized gay marriage, plus Brazil and the United Kingdom.

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