France has adopted a draft law to legalize same-sex marriage and open adoption to gay couples.
President Francois Hollande, who made the reform a key part of his election campaign, told the Cabinet that the reform would be progress for not only a few, but for all of society.
French Families Minister Dominique Bertinotti described the measure as a step towards the equality of human rights.
“The debate must be a quality debate. It must be founded on reality and not on fantasy. There is a bill. And in that bill, we are not substituting one thing for another but we are extending the notion of marriage to same-sex couples.''
Once approved, France would become the world's 12th country to legalize same-sex marriage.
Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal by mid-2013.
On Tuesday, Spain's Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the country's gay marriage law, rejecting an appeal contending that marriage can represent only the union of a man and a woman.
Spain is Europe's third country after Belgium and the Netherlands to approve gay marriage legislation.