France makes history as first gay couple wed
AFP/The Local · 29 May 2013, 18:02
Published: 29 May 2013 18:02 GMT+02:00
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The pair exchanged vows at a ceremony in the Town Hall in the southern city of Montpellier in front of hundreds of specially invited guests as well as the world’s media.
There was a tight security presence inside the Town Hall and on the streets outside after fears opponents, involve in recent violence protests against gay marriage could target the event.
The happy couple Autin, 40 et Boileau, 30 had to be escorted by the police from their hotel into the Town Hall where they were greeted by well wishers but were also jeered by some opponents of same-sex unions.
Authorities in Montpellier had initially planned to broadcast the civil marriage on big screens in the city centre, but abandoned the idea due to security fears.
The ceremony was carried out by the Mayor of Montpellier Hélène Mandroux.
In a speech before the vows were exchanged Mandroux said the wedding was a "historic moment".
"Your story ties in with the story of a whole country, a society that progresses in the fight against all forms of discrimination," said the Socialist mayor before signalling that the first gay wedding marked the fulfillment of an election promise made by President François Hollande.
"The law of marriage for all is a law of liberty, equality and fraternity," she added.
Autin and Boileau then exchanged vows and were pronounced "husband and husband" provoking a cheer from their friends and family. Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" was played after they officially signed the marriage forms.
Autin, 40, made a short speech after the ceremony thanking supporters and his family, frequently breaking down in tears. "Love yourselves, love us, because that's all that matters," he said, directing his words at opponents of gay marriage.
He then commended the 'militants' who had battled so same-sex unions could become legal in France.
The pair then left the building to greet the cheering crowds of supporters and well wishers who had gathered outside.
It was all captured live on television in images that were beamed across the world. Journalists from Al Jazeera and CNN were among the estimated 200 journalists accredited for the event.
(Where are the married couple? Hidden behind this media scrum.)
Earlier in the day France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls issued stern warnings against those opponents who might seek to disrupt the first same-sex unions that will take place across the country in the coming days.
“It is unacceptable that any individual should come to target those who are celebrating an important moment in their lives,” Valls said.
It was announced that the first gay marriage in the French capital will be held in the Town Hall of the 3rd arrondissement on June 7.
Certain mayors around however have already said they will refuse to conduct any gay marriage ceremonies.
The French parliament voted gay marriage into law on April 23 after months of street protests that were biggest seen in France for decades. The bill was finally signed into law by president François Hollande on