Skip to main content

After months of protests, French couple ties knot in first same-sex wedding

By Saskya Vandoorne and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 8:16 PM EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
Vincent Autin, left, and Bruno Boileau kiss as they exchange marriage vows at City Hall in Montpellier, France, on Wednesday, May 29. The two men were the <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/29/world/europe/france-same-sex-wedding/index.html'>first gays to wed in France</a> after the passage of a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The legislation has prompted fierce opposition from many social conservatives and the Catholic Church. Vincent Autin, left, and Bruno Boileau kiss as they exchange marriage vows at City Hall in Montpellier, France, on Wednesday, May 29. The two men were the first gays to wed in France after the passage of a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The legislation has prompted fierce opposition from many social conservatives and the Catholic Church.
HIDE CAPTION
France's first same-sex marriage
France's first same-sex marriage
France's first same-sex marriage
France's first same-sex marriage
France's first same-sex marriage
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We want children, we want to pass down values," says Bruno Boileau
  • France today gives us back the equal rights we were born with, says Vincent Autin
  • Autin and Boileau are the first same-sex couple to marry in France
  • The law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt has proved highly divisive in France

What are your thoughts on France's first same sex marriage? Share your views.

Montpellier, France (CNN) -- The French city of Montpellier witnessed history Wednesday when its mayor officiated the nation's first same-sex wedding in front of hundreds of guests.

Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau exchanged vows at a ceremony in the southern city, watched by some 500 guests seated on brightly colored chairs.

Autin, 40, is the head of the region's Lesbian and Gay Pride association, and he says his wedding to Boileau, 30, marks a big step forward for same-sex equality.

"When French children are born into this world, they are born with the same rights as everyone else -- but from the moment you said you were a homosexual, society deprived you of some of those rights," Autin told CNN in the couple's only interview on their wedding day.

First same-sex couple marries in France
Open Mic: Same-sex marriage
Protesters stand in the street as they face riot police on Sunday, May 26, in Paris on the sidelines of demonstrations against a gay marriage law legalizing same-sex marriage and adoptions for gay couples. President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law on May 18 following months of bitter debate and demonstrations, including a suicide at Notre Dame Cathedral in the name of protesting same-sex marriage. Protesters stand in the street as they face riot police on Sunday, May 26, in Paris on the sidelines of demonstrations against a gay marriage law legalizing same-sex marriage and adoptions for gay couples. President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law on May 18 following months of bitter debate and demonstrations, including a suicide at Notre Dame Cathedral in the name of protesting same-sex marriage.
Protests over France's same-sex marriage bill
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Protests over gay marriage bill Photos: Protests over gay marriage bill
Same-sex marriage around the world

French couple: Why we tied the knot

"Today the French Republic has given these rights back to us, the ones they had taken away, and it has put an end to an institutional discrimination."

While France has allowed civil partnerships for some years, controversial legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt was signed into law by President Francois Hollande 10 days ago.

Boileau said he and Autin plan to build a family together.

"We want children, we want to pass down values that are important to us, that we hold dear, that are right. And we want grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a real family," he said.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, minister of women's rights and a government spokeswoman, was among those attending the landmark ceremony, reflecting the governing Socialist Party's support for same-sex marriage. Montpellier's mayor, Helene Mandroux, also belongs to the party.

Protest marches

However, the move has prompted fierce opposition from many social conservatives and the Catholic Church, with hundreds of thousands of people joining protest marches in Paris and other cities over recent months.

While no official demonstrations were planned, there were concerns protesters would gather in Montpellier on Wednesday.

About 200 police officers were mobilized around the city in case of trouble, Montpellier police said.

On Sunday, a march against same-sex marriage in Paris attracted big crowds. Police put the turnout at 150,000, while the organizers estimated that a million people had turned out to fill the Esplanade des Invalides, a central plaza.

Opposition lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to have the new law blocked by France's highest court after it cleared the National Assembly and Senate.

Some 200 journalists were accredited to cover the wedding, many from overseas, signaling the global interest in the social landmark represented by the marriage.

Same-sex marriage: Who will legalize it next?

Guillaume Bonnet, senior campaign manager in France for the equality group All Out, said he was honored to be a guest at the wedding on what he described as a historic day for his country.

"We have shown that if we all work together anything is possible," he said. "Now couples like Vincent and Bruno can create life full of love and family just like any other loving and committed couple."

Internationally divisive

France is the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage.

If pending legislation in New Zealand and Uruguay is enacted as expected this year, the worldwide total of countries with legalized same-sex marriage will rise to 14.

Many countries remain split over the issue. A Brazilian court issued a directive this month removing a barrier that had limited same-sex marriage, but no bill has made it through Congress.

Legislators in the United Kingdom are also weighing proposals to legalize same-sex marriage. Lawmakers in Australia voted against a bill to legalize same-sex marriage last September. A poll for the advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality indicated that 64% of those surveyed "support marriage equality."

In the United States, the question went before the Supreme Court and justices are deliberating over the matter.

Twelve U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages. On the other side, many states have specific laws blocking same-sex couples from legally marrying.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne reported from Montpellier and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
ADVERTISEMENT