First 'gay' marriage celebrated in Cuba

A gay man and a transsexual woman were married Saturday outside Havana, Cuba, in what's being called the country's first same-sex marriage.

In a civil ceremony, Ignacio Estrada, 31, and Wendy Iriepa, 37, signed a marriage certificate, exchanged rings, kissed and were wished well by a state official, according to Reuters.

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Cuba, but Iriepa has been legally considered a woman since her 2007 sex change operation.

Reuters reports that Estrada, a political dissident, and Iriepa planned the event for Fidel Castro's 85th birthday as a "gift" to the former leader. Cuban dissidents and even U.S. diplomats attended the ceremony in a show of support.

Last year, Castro accepted responsibility for a crackdown on homosexuals in the 1960s.

On Saturday, reporters and curious onlookers were also among the crowd that turned out at a government marriage office in the Havana suburbs, Reuters reports:

The bride, wearing a strapless white wedding dress, made an exuberant arrival in a 1950s Ford convertible, sitting up on the backseat and holding the gay pride flag high with both hands as she smiled with happiness.

Estrada, wearing a white suit with a red tie, arrived separately in a Mercedes, and told the news agency that the wedding "is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba."

After the ceremony, the couple got in a convertible and drove around the streets, horn blaring, a rainbow flag hanging over their shoulders.

"This is not a provocation. It's an acknowledgment," Estrada told AFP.

One notable Cuban who did not attend was Mariela Castro, a sex therapist and daughter of President Raul Castro. Mariela, a proponent of gay marriage, decided not to go after learning that Estrada was a dissident, Iriepa told AFP.