Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

France’s first gay marriage brings joy, rage

Vincent Autin, left, and Bruno Boileau exchanged a kiss during their civil wedding at Montpelier City Hall on Wednesday. They were the first same-sex couple to marry in France since the government approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Claude Paris/Associated Press

Vincent Autin, left, and Bruno Boileau exchanged a kiss during their civil wedding at Montpelier City Hall on Wednesday. They were the first same-sex couple to marry in France since the government approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

MONTPELLIER, France — In a historic ceremony broadcast live on French television, the first gay couple to marry in France said ‘‘oui,’’ then sealed the deal with a lengthy and very public kiss.

Hundreds of invited guests including a government minister gathered for the moving ceremony Wednesday inside City Hall in this southern French city. Hundreds more flocked to the square outside the building as Vincent Autin, 40, and his 30-year-old partner, Bruno Boileau, were wed.

Continue reading below

The politically charged ceremony was held under tight police surveillance — a stark reminder of the months of bruising opposition to the new gay marriage law that French lawmakers passed earlier this month.

Although the marriage itself went undisrupted, outside City Hall it was not trouble-free. A plainclothes policeman dragged back one protester on Wednesday who shouted threats and tried to approach the couple as they were being escorted into the building, before the ceremony. Police also used tear gas to push back a small group of demonstrators who gathered behind City Hall.

‘‘Even if we have passed the hurdle of equality, there are still more battles to fight. . . . But for now, it’s a moment for festivity, for love,’’ Autin said after exchanging vows. Some cried, others smiled as Frank Sinatra’s hit ‘‘Love and Marriage’’ blasted out, marking them tying the knot.

The two men then walked hand-in-hand to the City Hall balcony to wave to well-wishers alongside Montpellier Mayor Helene Mandroux, who officiated at the ceremony. Smiling proudly, Mandroux called the marriage a ‘‘historic moment’’ and ‘‘a stage in the modernization of our country.’’

The two men, who will adopt the names ‘‘Messieurs Bruno et Vincent Boileau-Autin,’’ were holding a separate, private ceremony later Wednesday for close friends and family.

‘‘Many people have been waiting for this law on marriage and adoption. Now, it’s done. Many people are going to be doing as we did, and celebrating their unions. We are very pleased and honored,’’ said Boileau.

News of the marriage will not be welcomed in every corner of France. Just last Sunday, tens of thousands of people protested fiercely in Paris against the new gay marriage law, demonstrations that ended with riot police shooting tear gas.

A plan to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt was a liberal cornerstone of Socialist Francois Hollande’s election manifesto last year. It initially looked like a shoo-in for the French president and an easy way to break with his conservative predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

But the issue became a touchstone as Hollande’s popularity sank to unprecedented lows, largely over France’s ailing economy.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week