French watchdog says no to gay marriage

France's laws prohibiting gay marriage do not violate the constitution, the country's top constitutional watchdog said Friday.

However, the Constitutional Council said it is up to the country's parliament to make laws.

The decision leaves an opening for amendments in the future — and hope for two women who had challenged the French civil code's stipulation that marriage must be between a man and a woman.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have lived together for 15 years and have four children, have challenged the constitutionality of the country's law on banning the gay marriage.

The issue exposes a paradox in France: while the country often has an anything-goes attitude to romance and sexuality, it can be conservative with family values. The couple and advocacy group Act Up Paris hoped France would soon join EU partners including Spain, Belgium and Netherlands that have legalized same-sex marriage.