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Love Finds a Way For Russia's Second Legal Same-Sex Wedding

Love Finds a Way For Russia's Second Legal Same-Sex Wedding

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A second same-sex couple has found a way to wed by using Russia's draconian antigay laws to exchange their vows in legally binding matrimony.

A second same-sex couple legally married in Russia, reports U.K.-based PinkNews, ironically making ultraconservative politicians rage about the legal loophole the nation's anti-LGBT marriage policies created in the first place.

Irina Shumilova, who self-identifies as a transsexual woman, was able to legally wed her partner Alyona Fursova last Friday, even though same-sex marriage is forbidden in Russia. Because the Russian government does not recognize the gender identity of transgender individuals, it does not recognize Shumilova as a woman, therefore giving the St. Petersburg registrar no grounds to deny the couple a marriage license.

"This is a big step for all of us," said bridesmaid Marina Teodori. "Most of us want formally get married, but in Russia it is still impossible."

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Another queer couple married by using the same loophole to legally exchange wedding vows in August. Alina Davis and Allison Brooks posed for a stunning wedding photo in which they wore matching white wedding gowns and similar hairstyles shortly after their legally binding nuptials in Moscow. It is believed that Brooks and Davis, who identifies as angdrogyne, are the first-ever same-sex couple to legally marry in Russia.

But not everyone in St. Peterburg was eager to congratulate the brides. Vitaly Milonov, a municipal lawmaker who authored the local version of the now-nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda, couldn't resist chiming in about Shumilova's and Fusova's legally recognized union.

"I understood their unconvincing arguments," Milonov said, referring to the bureaucrats who issued the marriage license to the couple. "They formally approached the issue and saw passports, but not people. I told the [registry office] head that it is criminal negligence."

Milonov, a St. Petersburg municipal leader, recently said that the Apple CEO Tim Cook should be banned for Russia for life because he would bring an infectious disease into the country, shortly after Cook came out publicly as a gay man.

"What could he bring us? The Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea? They all have unseemly ties over there," Milonov reportedly said. "Ban him for life."

Milonov is known internationally as the author of a citywide ban on public images and demonstrations that call attention to LGBT issues, which was later expanded by President Vladimir Putin into a national ban on any media, demonstrations, or speech deemed to be "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in arenas visible to minors. In the past, Milonov has expressed his beliefs that straight Russians are the victims of hate crimes committed by gays, that gay people rape children, and that actor Stephen Fry is a "bringer of evil" for opposing Russia's antigay laws.

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But for bridesmaid Teodori, her newlywed friends' legally binding marriage is a symbol of hope.

"For us it is the realization of our dreams," she told PinkNews. "We hope many will have this opportunity."

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