Female couple flout French same-sex marriage ban

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Two women succeeded in dodging France's same-sex marriage ban to say "I do" on Saturday -- because one of the happy couple is still, legally, a man.

Stephanie Nicot, 59, wed 27-year-old partner Elise in a town hall ceremony in Nancy in eastern France in what is said to be the first marriage of its kind in the country.

Stephanie, formerly Stephane, had sex reassignment surgery to become a woman but has refused to lodge documents, as required by French law, to also have her gender changed on the population register.

"It's a symbol for millions of gays and lesbians who would like to have the same rights," Nicot said of her marriage.

"It's the first marriage in France of its kind," Nancy's deputy mayor Laurent Henart told AFP.

The newly-weds later joined around 2,000 members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community for a march in the city.

The only regret voiced by one of the guests was that the marriage official "called Stephanie by her old, male name."

There are between 40,000 and 50,000 transsexual and transgender people living in France, according to support groups.

The French constitutional court in January upheld the country's gay marriage ban, saying it was in keeping with the constitution.

The court made the ruling in response to a bid by a lesbian couple, who have four children, to marry after spending 10 years in a PACS, or civil union.

Several of France's European Union fellow member states, including Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, have legalised homosexual marriage.

© 2011 AFP

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