From The Guardian, Wednesday 29 May 2013 20.55 BST
Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau during their marriage in Montpellier, France Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA
The two grooms wore matching black suits, one in a tie, one in a bow tie, 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.
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. The Socialist mayor Hélène Mandroux received 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 had attended demonstrations with a placard round her neck reading: “Proud to have a gay son”. Now that they are married, the couple would like to adopt a child. They will both change their surname to Boileau-Autin.
In her wedding speech, Montpellier’s mayor said the marriage marked a “historic day” in the fight against discrimination in France and for “a society without judgement or rejection.” She called for an end to “so much hate, violence, division”.
I have found the hatred and aggression shown by the masses of homophobic protesters, who have recently taken to the streets, quite extraordinary in the worst possible way, especially as many of them claim to be devout Catholics. What happened to ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ in their education. I thought modern Christians were supposed to be tolerant and charitable. The French republican motto is: Egalité, Fraternité, Liberté – Equality, Brotherhood, Freedom. We are not all born equal, but I think we should all have the same rights.
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