France has a new president. Here’s why that matters.

Almost a week after President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, another marriage equality advocate took the helm in Europe. François Hollande, who supports “the right to marry and adopt for all couples,” became the president of France today.

So what does the political shift in France mean for intended parents and surrogates?

Like most countries in Europe, France does not allow surrogacy – the election of Hollande won’t likely change this. Many Europeans turn instead to the United States to pursue surrogacy. For gay couples, ensuring the rights of both parents means either getting U.S. court orders which recognize both intended parents, or French flagpursuing adoptions or parental orders when they return home. In France and elsewhere, these options are not available for same-sex couples; often only the intended parent who contributes genetic material is officially recognized as a parent. A shift toward allowing gay adoption in France would mean both intended parents in a same-sex relationship would be able to safeguard their parental rights.

On marriage equality, France lags behind its neighbors Spain and Belgium, offering (in place of same-sex marriage) a civil solidarity pact, which grants fewer rights than marriage to registered couples. Adoption by gay couples is not guaranteed by French law. But the new president has vowed to push forward on these issues as early as 2013. And polls indicate that next month’s National Assembly elections will likely bring more of Hollande’s allies into public office.

By backing marriage equality, Obama and Hollande reflect growing public support in both countries. Polls in France show  that 63% of France favors marriage equality and 58% favors giving gay people the right to adopt. Yesterday, Le Monde newspaper published a letter calling gay marriage a “necessary advance.” Stateside, a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority agreed with the U.S. president’s recently announced stance on marriage equality.

President Obama noted the role that his experience with families headed by same-sex couples played in his “change in perspective.” He said that his daughters’ views on the subject, and their own experiences with LGBT families helped shape his decision.

The recent shifts toward marriage equality in both France and the United States are positive steps for surrogacy. The day is growing closer when same-sex intended parents who are currently unable to secure full parental rights can confidently say their rights are backed by law. And the surrogates and egg donors who are building families for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are helping bring that day closer.