France Embraces Gay Marriage

On February 12, 2013, France became the second nation in one month to take the first steps toward marriage equality. Much like the February 5th decision by Britain’s House of Commons, the French Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, voted 329 to 229 to approve the “Marriage for All” bill spearheaded by President François Hollande’s Socialist party.

In addition to legalizing same-sex marriage, the recently passed bill also grants the same right to all married couples to adopt children. The adoption clause was facilitated by an article passed earlier by the Assembly that redefined marriage as a contract between two people.

This defining article was key to the passage of the “Marriage for All” bill because France is unique in its approach to marriage contracts.

France is practically unique in Europe in making it obligatory, for couples who marry, to do so in a civil ceremony, with potential jail terms for priests who conduct a religious ceremony first.

In other countries, priests, rabbis or imams who carry out weddings are also acting as civil officials, and the marriage conducted in church, synagogue or mosque is duly registered in law.

This is the case in other "Catholic" countries like Spain and Portugal, which have recently adopted gay marriage. Indeed the absence of long-lasting controversy over the issue in Spain and Portugal is often adduced as an argument by supporters of gay marriage in France.

However - as a study by the liberal French think-tank the Thomas More Foundation has noted - in Spain and Portugal people who oppose gay marriage can continue to get married in church, content with the feeling that "their" marriage has nothing to do with the civil one organised by the state and now open to gay people.

But in France, there can be no such separation. The civil marriage in France is compulsory, and so if there is a change in the civil code on marriage, it affects everybody.

Even with France’s unique legal approach to marriage contracts, opinion polls show that approximately 55 to 60 percent of French people support gay marriage. Although this support drops somewhat for gay adoption, the legislation supporting gay adoption remained as part of the bill approved by the Assembly.

The Assembly-passed bill is expected to pass the Senate. Assuming this to be the case, the bill would become law sometime in May or June. This tracks with Britain’s law that also needs to pass the higher chamber. Although some debate is expected in the UK House of Lords, Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated that he expects the law to be enacted sometime in the summer.

Assuming that both France and Britain go on to enact their respective marriage equality legislation, they will join 10 other countries, along with nine states and the District of Columbia, that have legalized same-sex unions including The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina.

Clearly as these recent legislative victories illustrate, the tide is turning toward acceptance of full equality for LGBT people and the recognition that everyone deserves the right to love and marry the person of his or her choice.

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.