Vincent and Bruno got married, the first in France

Wed May 29, 2013 4:07pm EDT
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By Catherine Bremer

MONTPELLIER, France (Reuters) - Not even France's biggest street protests in years - or a smoke bomb lobbed toward the city hall - could stop Vincent and Bruno getting married.

The first gay couple to wed since France became the 14th country to permit same-sex marriage, Vincent Autin, 40, and Bruno Boileau, 29, exchanged vows and rings on Wednesday to cheers and applause at a city hall ringed by riot police.

"I pronounce you joined in matrimony in the name of the law," said Helene Mandroux, mayor of the southern of city of Montpellier, which styles itself France's most "gay-friendly".

The two men, in matching tuxedos, embraced to Frank Sinatra singing "Love and Marriage" and spoke of how it would help them start a family - new legal rights that hundreds of thousands protested against, some violently, right up until this week.

"Love each other, love us, love one another, because it's important," said gay rights activist Autin, choking with emotion and adding that the couple hoped now to apply to adopt a child.

"This protects the family we want to build."

Minutes earlier, as the pair had prepared to make their entrance in front of 500 invited guests, journalists and well-wishers inside the futuristic, blue-glass city hall, someone had tossed a smoke bomb into the building's grounds.

The law granting gay men and lesbians equality in marriage and adoption has been among the most divisive of President Francois Hollande's first year in office, tapping a groundswell of liberal opinion in predominantly Roman Catholic France but enraging traditionalists, the far-right and many churchgoers.   Continued...

Vincent Autin ( L) and Bruno Boileau (R) kiss after their wedding vows on the terrace of the city hall in Montpellier, May 29, 2013. The two men are the first same-sex couple to marry in France under a reform which has stoked some of the ugliest protests in the country in decades. The law, backed by most French and feted by gay and lesbians as it came into force this month, makes France the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage despite heated street protests by conservatives, Catholics and extreme-right groups. REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson