France celebrates first gay marriage amid tight security
Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau become first same-sex couple to marry in France.
The two grooms wore matching black suits, one in a tie, one in a bowtie, and walked up the aisle holding hands to the jazz chords of Nat King Cole's L.O.V.E. When they tearfully exchanged rings to the pointedly-chosen Frank Sinatra's Love and Marriage go together like a horse and carriage, the crowd reached for the handkerchiefs.
"Now at least marriage is an option to all of us, what a historic day," sighed a drag-queen dressed as a disco nun.
After months of mass street-demonstrations that have shaken France, violent clashes between far-right groups and riot police, 172 hours of heated parliament debate and a warning of a 30% rise in homophobic acts, Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau yesterday became the first same-sex couple to marry in France.
"Do you consent to take as your spouse....?" began the Socialist mayor Hélène Mandroux who had recieved phone-threats advising her to get "bodyguards" before the ceremony in the southern French city of Montpellier. "Yes," the two men replied and kissed to a standing ovation. Among those applauding was Autin's mother, who hadattended demonstrations with a placard round her neck reading: "Proud to have a gay son".
Moments before the grooms arrived, four or five anti gay-marriage demonstrators had tried to enter the town-hall grounds from the back, letting off a gas cannister and fire-crackers. Police frisked and searched everyone arriving at the ceremony after an anonymous phone-call to the town hall making threats.