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French president signs gay marriage into law

French President François Hollande has signed a law authorizing gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

France now14th country to legalize same-sex unions

While thousands protested when the bill was adopted by France's Senate and National Assembly last month, others, like this couple in Paris, held demonstrations in favour of it. (Benjamin Girette/Associated Press)

French President François Hollande has signed a law authorizing gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, after months of nationwide protests and wrenching debate.

His signature means the first gay marriages may be celebrated in France within about 10 days. Hollande's office said he signed the bill Saturday morning, a day after the Constitutional Council struck down a challenge to the law.

Hollande, head of the Socialist Party, had made legalizing gay marriage one of his campaign pledges last year.

France is now the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage after New Zealand last month.

While polls for years have shown majority support for gay marriage in France, adoption by same-sex couples is more controversial.

The bill prompted months of widespread protests, largely by conservative and religious groups. Some were marred by clashes with police.