Amidst all the speculation about whether the UK would ever see same-sex marriage, on 29 May 2013 France became the 14th country to host a wedding involving a gay couple.
Under brand-new family laws, passed just ten days beforehand, the wedding of Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau went ahead amidst mass-media interest and joy from gay activists juxtaposed with fear of civil unrest.
Prior to the ceremony six months of heated political debate and outbursts of violent protesting exposed a fiercely conservative outlook among some of the French population. Dissent regarding the proposed allowing of same-sex marriage and adoption in French family law saw major protests in Paris and a small number of protesters were also present outside the city hall in Montpelier where the couple were married.
There was tight security and a strong police presence at the ceremony which was broadcast simultaneously on French TV. The marriage was officiated by Mayor of Montpelier Helene Mandroux, who described it as a “historic moment” and “a stage in the modernisation of” France.
At the time of the French wedding Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden were the other 13 countries to have enacted family laws regarding same-sex marriage, while parts of Mexico and the United States had also legalised gay weddings.
Uruguay and New Zealand had both enacted laws that would shortly come into force, while Andorra, Columbia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Nepal and the United Kingdom were all in the process of debating proposed bills on the legalisation of same-sex marriages.
In the UK, where same-sex couples had been able to undertake civil-partnership ceremonies since December 2005, much of the dissent regarding same-sex marriage came from Christian groups which sought to outlaw the practice as being against the tenets of the Bible.
However, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, went on record the day after the French wedding ceremony to suggest that Christians should rethink their opposition to the Gay Marriage Bill, saying that there was precedent of the church revising its position on similarly contentious issues.
Bishop Holtam wrote in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph, “For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”
Legal advice for gay couples from Healys family lawyers in London and Brighton
Whether you and your partner plan to live together or undergo an official ceremony of union, there are a number of legal implications which should be considered carefully at the outset of any potentially long-term commitment.
At Healys, our family lawyers in London and Brighton have wide-ranging experience in helping couples through the legal processes. This includes the drafting of pre-civil partnership and pre-nuptial agreements to protect clients’ best interests should the relationship break down at a later date.
We can also represent spouses and partners in any financial claim which may arise after relationship breakdown, divorce or civil-partnership dissolution.
For legal representation, or simply to find out about the legal ramifications of cohabiting or getting legally joined to your partner, why not call Healys family solicitors today. We are here to help.