A lesbian couple's challenge to France's ban on gay marriage is headed to the nation's Constitutional Court.

The court was ordered to take up the case by the country's Court of Cassation, roughly equivalent to a supreme court, on Tuesday.

Gay marriage “is today the subject of a broad debate within society, notably because of the evolution of morals and the recognition of same-sex marriages by the laws of several foreign countries,” the judges wrote in their ruling.

French gay activists believe the court will side with them, making France the eighth European country to legalize the institution. The tiny island of Iceland (pop. 320,000) joined the ranks of Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden and Portugal when it legalized gay marriage last summer.

“This would allow us, first of all, to abolish the sexuality hierarchy and put an end to the idea that heterosexuality is superior,” Laurence Weber, president of Execo (Equal), told RTL radio. “That's the principle of the thing. But legalizing gay marriage would also make life a lot easier for many gay couples on a practical level.”

France is among the European countries that recognize gay unions with civil partnerships, which offer some or all of the rights and obligations of marriage.