PARIS -- French President Francois Hollande delivered on a controversial campaign pledge Wednesday, sending the legislature a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in France, Europe's second-most-populous nation.
Hollande's Cabinet approved the draft "marriage for all" bill, which would give same-sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual ones, including the ability to adopt children. Lawmakers are set to examine the measure in Parliament in mid-January.
The proposal was declared a historic event by many French media organizations and comes 31 years after the French government refused to recognize medical designations of homosexuality as a mental illness. The new bill was unveiled just hours after voters on the other side of the Atlantic, in the states of Maryland and Maine, approved same-sex-marriage measures.
Hollande hailed the bill as a sign of "progress not only for a few, but for the whole of society."
"It's an important step toward equal rights for all," said Dominique Bertinotti, minister in charge of family issues, as she left the Cabinet meeting Wednesday afternoon.
"We don't take anything away from heterosexual couples," Bertinotti added. "We enlarge and give the possibility for same-sex couples to have the same rights and, I repeat, the same duties."