Gay man marries transsexual woman in Cuban first
By Jeff Franks
HAVANA (Reuters) - A gay dissident and a transsexual woman married on Saturday in what was said to be a first for Cuba, then draped themselves in the rainbow flag of gay pride and rode through the streets of Havana.
In a simple civil ceremony surrounded by much hoopla, Ignacio Estrada, 31, and Wendy Iriepa, 37, signed a marriage certificate, exchanged rings and kissed before a state official, who wished them much happiness.
It was not technically a same-sex marriage, which is prohibited in Cuba, and drew no interference from authorities
because Iriepa is legally a woman after undergoing Cuba's first state-sanctioned sex change operation in 2007.
But the wedding, held on Fidel Castro's 85th birthday in what the couple had called a "gift" to the former leader, was aimed at advancing homosexual rights in Cuba and tinged with politics as some of Cuba's best-known dissidents participated and U.S. diplomats attended in a public show of support.
It also signaled changing attitudes on the island, where homosexuals were placed in camps in the 1960s for being "counterrevolutionary" in a part of history that prompted a mea culpa from Fidel Castro last year.
Applauding supporters, a throng of reporters and dozens of curious Cubans awaited the couple as they arrived at a government marriage office in the Havana suburbs.
The bride, wearing a strapless white wedding dress, made an exuberant arrival in a 1950s Ford convertible, sitting up on the backseat and holding the gay pride flag high with both hands as she smiled with happiness. Continued...