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“It is very shocking and even surprising coming from him because I consider him a wise man,” Mr. Delanoe said. “I don’t know what came over him, and what he said was downright ugly.”

Over the past few decades, French officials increasingly have moved to secularize national law to rid it of any traces of religion. The movement often has led to heated confrontations between the church and state in the traditionally Catholic country.

However, the upcoming legislation has been subject to criticism from other quarters of society.

Francois Lebel, the conservative mayor of a district of Paris, announced that he would refuse to preside over homosexual marriages if the bill becomes law. In France, mayors and deputy mayors are the main officiators at weddings.

Mr. Lebel, who officiated the marriage of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy and supermodel/singer Carla Bruni in 2008, said in a recent editorial that he would not officiate “personally, at any marriage of this nature.”

“If the age-old taboo on heterosexual marriages is swept away, who and what will stop other taboos from going the same way?” he wrote. “How could we tomorrow stop polygamy in France, a rule which is only a taboo in Western civilization?”

Mr. Lebel also suggested that the bill could open the way for incest, as well as pedophilia and the marriage of minors. He added that, while he will not officiate the marriage of gay couples, his “town hall will, of course, conform to the law.”