May 15, 2015 5:25 PM

Gay leader of Catholic Luxembourg marries partner

The Associated Press

LUXEMBOURG (AP) The prime minister of Luxembourg married his partner on Friday, a year after the tiny Roman Catholic nation approved a law allowing same-sex marriage.

Xavier Bettel did so five years after Iceland's prime minister married her partner in the first same-sex wedding of a ruling government leader in Europe.

"I wish for everybody to be as happy as I am, thank you to the Luxembourg people and to everyone, I do not make any distinctions, thank you," Bettel told a crowd of well wishers outside the capital's city hall.

Bettel at first said he wanted to have a very private wedding, but by Friday morning, he had already posted a picture of himself with Belgian partner Gauthier Destenay on his Twitter profile page. The official ceremony at Luxembourg City Hall was held late Friday afternoon.

Bettel, a 42-year-old lawyer, heads the free-market DP liberals, who entered a coalition government with the Socialists and the Greens to end 34 years of Christian Democrat reign in Luxembourg. On July 1, this nation of 520,000 will take over the presidency of the 28-nation European Union, giving Bettel major international exposure.

Shoehorned between Germany, France and Belgium, Luxembourg has been at the heart of European affairs since the founding of the EU in 1957. It was long seen as a picture of sedate bourgeois conservatism, yet it has become a major financial center, giving it clout well beyond its size.

"It is rather a good thing, a little country, Luxembourg, that we look at often as a conservative country but it is reforming itself in a smart way," said French television presenter Stephane Bern, a friend of Bettel.

The prime minister has also reinvigorated the political scene with reforms. Last year, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved changes to allow people of the same sex to wed and to adopt children part of the most fundamental revision of Luxembourg's laws on marriage since 1804.

It makes the motto of the country, "We want to remain what we are," a little outdated.

"I am against hypocrisy so I find it is a good thing that they do it. Live and let live so I have no opinion, against or for it," said well wisher Monique Stoffel.


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