Tens of thousands of people on Saturday marched in cities across France to protest a proposal to legalize gay marriage.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other major towns and cities in protests supported by the Roman Catholic Church, the AP reported.

The Socialist government of Francois Hollande earlier this month sent a proposed plan to legalize marriage and adoption for gay couples to lawmakers for debate. The National Assembly is expected to start examining the legislation in January, and a vote could come by mid-2013.

Protesters carried signs which read “one father + one mother for all children” and “don't touch civil marriage” as they marched through the streets of Paris towards the Invalides monument, Napeoleon Bonaparte's final resting place. Bonaparte enacted France's current civil code, which defines marriage as a heterosexual union.

Police estimated 70,000 people took part in the Paris demonstration. Organizers put the figure at 200,000. Police said 5,000 marched in Toulouse. Organizers said there were 10,000.

(Related: Pope Benedict XVI calls on the French Church to fight gay marriage.)