France: Landmark first same-sex wedding takes place in Montpellier

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France’s first same-sex wedding ceremony has taken place in the city of Montpellier, with the presence of the world’s media, and which was described by the city’s mayor as “historic”.

Vincent Autin, a 40-year-old PR firm head, and his husband Bruno Boileau, a 29-year-old government worker, were married in Montpellier’s town hall. Before the ceremony, they said that they were aware of the potential public impact of the ceremony.

The media waited with baited breath, as the guests arrived, bags were checked, as security was on high alert.

The couple walked out to L.O.V.E. by Nat King Cole, and were greeted by Mandroux, who described the ceremony as a “historic moment”, going on to say that the couple were a “symbol of France united”. Guests gave a standing ovation before the couple were seated for the marriage ceremony.

After the ceremony, the couple walked out to Love and Marriage, by Frank Sinatra, but not before the registrar got choked up as they signed their marriage certificate.

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Hélène Mandroux, the Socialist mayor and same-sex marriage advocate, who performed the ceremony this afternoon, received threats, including by telephone, when one man told her to “get bodyguards”, but seemed unfazed as she officiated the ceremony. 

The couple have been together for over five years. The ceremony was moved to a larger room, as the couple’s 200 friends and family, as well as 300 guests and 150 journalists, and government representatives, would not have fit in the regular function room.

Two giant cakes were seen being delivered to the venue earlier today, which were covered in pink and white icing, lace and popular slinkie toys.

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Following months of sometimes violent protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, French President Hollande signed the law making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage, two weeks ago.

Marriage equality opponents had hoped that challenging the bill before the Constitutional Council would scupper the bill after months of debate and protest.

However the Council declared: “The law allowing same-sex marriage conforms with the constitution.”

On Sunday, at the end of a day of tense, but relatively peaceful anti-equal marriage protests, which saw tens of thousands take to the streets of Paris, riot police clashed with hundreds of violent demonstrators.