"Parliament will take its time," Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Saturday. "Nobody doubts (the reform) will become law, but all opinions - political, philosophical or religious - will be heard."
Passing the law by mid-2013 as planned would make France the 12th country around the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Surveys by the Ifop polling group show support for gay marriage has slipped a bit from 65 percent in August to 61 percent now as the public debate has taken off.
Public support for full adoption rights for gay couples, the second part of the planned reform, has also slid from 53 per cent then to 48 percent now.
More than 78,000 people have signed a petition opposing the measure that was sponsored by 41 conservative politicians, as well as Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, evangelical and Muslim leaders. The Catholic Church has also distributed talking points to assist members in debating supporters of marriage equality.
The debate has been delayed until Nov. 7, according to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayraul's office, and is expected to last until January.
Should the Parliament approve the bill, France would join countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Spain in allowing gay marriage.
In the late 1990s, France was one of the first countries to permit same-sex civil partnerships, which gave the principal rights and obligations of marriage except for adoption.
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