French President Francois Hollande has signed same-sex marriage into law after the country's Constitutional Council dismissed a legal challenge to stop it. It follows months of political debate and public protests.
President Hollande signed the bill into law early Saturday following the Council's dismissal of a legal challenge, making France the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage.
The legislation also legalizes adoption by same-sex partners.
"I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption to these marriages," Hollande said.
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who brought the bill before parliament, said the first same-sex marriages could take place as early as June.
Gay rights groups worldwide heralded the court's decision which was made on the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on Friday.
"Now it's celebration time," said Nicolas Gougain, a spokesman for Inter-LGBT.
Referring to the anti-gay protests that had happened in France in the months leading up to the law, the NGO SOS Homphobie released a statement saying that "our country has taken a great step forward today although it's regrettable that it was taken in a climate of bad faith and homophobic violence."
The same-sex marriage debate has divided France, a mostly Catholic country, as protests against the bill drew hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who clashed with police.
Following the ruling late Friday, more than 200 protesters gathered in central Paris to condemn the Council's decision. Many have called for President Hollande to step down.
Opponents of the law are planning a major protest in Paris on May 26.
jlw/hc (afpd, dpa)