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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 24, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 21
French President Hollande signs marriage law
Section One
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French President Hollande signs marriage law

Homophobe commits suicide in reaction to the news

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

French President Francois Hollande signed his country's new marriage law, while at least one right-wing opponent of marriage equality literally killed himself rather than live in a France where Gay and Lesbian couples could marry.

Hollande fulfilled his campaign pledge to legalize same-sex marriage on May 18, less than 24 hours after France's Constitutional Council dismissed a legal challenge to the new law by right-wing opposition parties.

'I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption of these marriages,' Hollande announced.

Marriages can begin as early as May 29, because French law requires a 10-day waiting period after a couple procures a license.

The first couple slated to be married under the new law are Vincent Autin, 40, the president of Lesbian and Gay Pride Montpellier, and his partner of seven years, Bruno Boileau, 30. Montpellier is a Mediterranean resort popular with Gay tourists.

'LOVE HAS WON OUT'
The mayor of the city, like President Hollande a Socialist, said she would be pleased to perform the first same-sex wedding in the country.

'Love has won out over hate,' Montpellier Mayor Hélène Mandroux said after Hollande signed the law.

The French minister for the rights of women, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, said she will attend the wedding.

The LGBT rights group SOS Homophobie, said that France 'has taken a great step forward today, although it is regrettable that it was taken in a climate of bad faith and homophobic violence.'

Right-wing opponents of equal rights for Gay and Lesbian couples had staged a series of massive - and violent - anti-government demonstrations both before and after the French parliament passed the marriage law last month.

Masked demonstrators stormed through the streets of several French cities, throwing bottles, bricks, garbage cans, and metal bars at riot police who arrived to disperse them with water cannons and tear gas.

The right-wing opposition party, UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) has called for more demonstrations on May 26, even though the marriage issue is legally settled.

SUICIDAL REACTION
In Paris, a prominent opponent of marriage equality killed himself in protest.

Noted right-wing historian Dominique Venner shot himself in the head next to the altar of Notre Dame cathedral on May 20, sending tourists scurrying out of the church. Venner left behind a long and rambling blog post lamenting the new marriage law. He was 78.

'New spectacular and symbolic actions are needed to wake up the sleep walkers and shake the anaesthetised consciousness,' he wrote.

It later emerged that Venner had been a member of the Secret Army Organization, a right-wing terrorist group formed in the 1960s to prevent the French government from granting independence to Algeria.

Venner's suicide was Paris's second within a week to occur under highly unusual circumstances. On May 16, the day before the Constitutional Council was set to rule on the legality of the new marriage law, a 50-year-old man killed himself with a sawed-off shotgun in front of a dozen children at a private Catholic school next to the Eiffel Tower. According to BBC News, the man had a history of mental problems. It was not immediately known if he was reacting to the new law.

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