The Socialist government of Francois Hollande will unveil its gay marriage bill to the French cabinet on October 31.

The government's proposal has been criticized by more than 1,200 French mayors or deputy mayors who have signed on to a petition warning that they will not officiate over the weddings of gay and lesbian couples. The Catholic Church also strongly opposes the reform.

However, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the AFP that there would be no backtracking.

“After a very broad consultation process that, of course, involved religious leaders, I've made up my mind,” Ayrault said. “This is about ensuring fairness and equality that reflects the evolution of our society.”

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholics in France to “defend marriage.”

“The family is threatened by a conception of human nature that is proven to be defective,” Benedict told a group of French bishops visiting Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence located on the outskirts of Rome. “Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is harmful to them will in fact be injurious to society itself.”

Plans to make France the 12th country to legalize gay nuptials were set in motion in June when Socialists won control of both houses of Parliament, just weeks after Hollande, who campaigned on the issue, was elected to lead the nation.

Hollande has promised the first ceremonies will be held in mid-2013.