Vincent and Bruno to wed, a first in France

Wed May 29, 2013 8:45am EDT
 
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By Catherine Bremer

MONTPELLIER, France (Reuters) - Two men will marry in the southern French city of Montpellier on Wednesday, the first same-sex couple to wed in France under a reform that has stoked some of the fiercest street protests in the country in decades.

Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau - together since they hit it off six years ago discussing music in an online forum - will exchange vows in the city hall before the mayor, relatives and friends, and as many other well-wishers as can be crammed in.

"We hope it'll be forever, but if ever it ends, we'll be equal to any other married couple in that mess," quipped Aubin in one of a blitz of local media interviews before the big day.

Despite strong support for the reform in Montpellier, which boasts of being France's most gay-friendly town, officials ditched plans to broadcast the ceremony live on a giant TV screen in the square outside over fears hardline opponents could sour the proceedings.

Unwilling to turn the square in front of the city hall into a fenced-off, high-security zone, the event will instead be beamed live online to the city council's website.

"It's a stressful time for Victor and Bruno. There are people who will try to mark this symbolic day with words of hate," said Elodie Brun, a coordinator at the local Gay Pride Association, which Aubin heads.

Brun will be a witness to the nuptials, set for 5:30 p.m. (1530 GMT), and will sign the first ever marriage registry entry for two people of the same sex in a nation predominantly Roman Catholic but fiercely attached to separating church and state.

Backed by a slim majority of French and feted by gay men and lesbians when it came into force this month, a law making France the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage has triggered street protests by conservatives, Catholics and extreme right-wingers.   Continued...

 
People gather outside Marseille's town hall to attend a demonstration to support the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Marseille, April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier