• France edition
 
Gay couple sue mayor over wedding refusal
Guy Martineau-Espel (L) and his fiancé Jean-Michel Martin (R) have pressed charges against Arcangues mayor Jean-Michel Colo for refusing to marry them. Photo: Gaizka Iroz/AFP

Gay couple sue mayor over wedding refusal

Published: 26 Jun 2013 12:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Jun 2013 12:08 GMT+02:00

Jean-Michel Colo, the mayor of Arcangues, stirred up controversy by becoming the first French official to formally refuse to officiate at the wedding of gay partners, Jean-Michel Martin and Guy Martineau-Espel, and has made several combative statements.

Isabelle Duguet, the couple's lawyer, said she had filed a case against Colo for discrimination and refusal to carry out his official duties. The 60-year-old has been mayor of Arcangues for three decades.

Duguet said Colo could face a five-year jail term and a €75,000 fine.

"For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children. I am not discriminating, as a same-sex couple is sterile. It's a parody of equality, it's a big lie," Colo had said earlier, defending his stand.

"I will go to the gallows" rather than back down, Colo said.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls has warned Colo of "significant sanctions", telling reporters that any public servants refusing to respect the letter of the law would be guilty of discrimination and thus risk up to three years in prison, as well as paying €45,000 in damages.

The frustrated Martin had told AFP that the couple had even tried to tell Colo that the nuptials would not be played out in the media but he had failed to persuade him to marry them.

"Our initial aim was to create the least waves possible, without any publicity or media presence," Martin said.

"To respect his beliefs, we even told him that we were ready to get married not in the town hall but in our home in the presence of a magistrate but he refused this too."

"It is now time to turn to the law," said Martineau-Espel. "We had been ready to make concessions earlier, now we want the marriage to be held at the town hall."

Colo is far from the only French mayor to have refused to officiate at the wedding of a gay couple. 

On Wednesday Jean-Yves Clouet, the mayor of the small town of Mesanger in northwestern France, has also voiced his defiance, saying: "I have my convictions and I will not carry out these kind of marriages, that's for sure."

Earlier in June, Claude Binaud, six-time mayor of Matha, a town in the Charente-Maritime region of south-western France, caused a stir by refusing to marry a local man, Bernard Rouhaud, and his partner.

Binaud qualified his refusal, however, by saying that he "would consider marrying two girls.”

“Two girls, I might have said yes, if my back was against the wall. But that’s totally different, they can have children,” he said.

In April, France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage after President Francois Hollande, who had made the issue a major electoral plank, signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate.

The first gay marriage in France was held on May 29th.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'The French among the world's stingiest tippers'
Are the French stingy tippers? Photo of a bill: Shutterstock

'The French among the world's stingiest tippers'

The French have never been big on tipping, but according to a new survey they increasingly pay what they owe and not a penny more. A expert has an interesting explanation, which has nothing to do with the French being cheap. READ  

French ballerinas offer lessons in Fukushima
French ballet dancer Dorothree Gilbert (R) of the Paris Opera giving a lesson to Japanese children in Fukushima. Photo: Antoine Bouthier/AFP

French ballerinas offer lessons in Fukushima

A group of French ballet stars from the renowned Paris Opera donned tutus and tights in the shadow of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and twirled their way into the hearts of local students. READ  

'Exorbitant' estate agency fees capped by new law
France is finally capping the fees real estate agencies can charge renters. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

'Exorbitant' estate agency fees capped by new law

Starting in September France is finally going to cap the sometimes outrageous ‘agency fees’ renters have to pay when signing the lease for a new apartment. It will mean paying less for some, but not all French ‘locataires’. READ  

France condemns Israeli shelling of Gaza school
France has condemned the deadly shelling of a UN school in Gaza by Israel. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP

France condemns Israeli shelling of Gaza school

France's president condemned the Israeli shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed 16 people who had sought refuge there. It was the second time this week Israeli artillerie hit a UN school in Gaza. READ  

Facebook: Dad hits baby, posts photo of injuries
Facebook photo: Shutterstock

Facebook: Dad hits baby, posts photo of injuries

Parents of a one-month-old baby in France have been brought up on abuse charges after hitting their child because he wouldn't stop crying and then posting photos on Facebook of the beaten infant "for fun." READ  

France may ban violent Jewish fringe group
An violent Jewish 'self-defense' group may be banned in France. Photo: Screengrab/LDJ

France may ban violent Jewish fringe group

The French government is considering banning a violent, extremist Jewish ‘self-defense’ group that has been involved in recent fighting with pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Similar groups have already been banned in Israel and targeted by the FBI in the United States. READ  

Paying ransoms
France 'world’s top payer' of ransoms for hostages
Did France pay a ransom to free four hostages who spent three years in captivity. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France 'world’s top payer' of ransoms for hostages

France has paid out $58 million to free hostages since 2008, putting it top of the world rankings for ransom payments, according to a media report. Although the French government has angrily denied the claims, critics says the policy is creating a lucrative hostage industry. READ  

Tired French burglar falls asleep during break-in
A sleeping French burglar woke up to the police. Photo: Quinn.anya/Flickr

Tired French burglar falls asleep during break-in

A suspected burglar took a nap while robbing a house in France this week and when he woke up the police were waiting for him. It’s just the latest case of criminals choosing an inopportune time to nod off. READ  

Nudity on the beaches of France: Dos and don'ts
Planning on taking your clothes off on a French beach this summer? Before you do, reads these 10 dos and don'ts. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Nudity on the beaches of France: Dos and don'ts

France is world famous for its topless and nudist beaches, even if French ladies are increasingly keeping their swim suits on. Here’s what you need to know about dropping your top (or bottoms) on French beaches. READ  

Peeing man drowns after being pushed into Seine
Police are looking for whoever pushed a man from behind into the River Seine, leading to him drowning. Photo: Dany13/Flickr

Peeing man drowns after being pushed into Seine

A man drowned in the River Seine early on Wednesday in Paris after he was pushed into the water from behind while he was peeing, French media reported. Police aren’t sure if it was a prank gone wrong or a violent reprisal. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Why are the days of going topless in France coming to an end?
Travel
Reckless or adventurous? US dad takes his two children up Mont Blanc
National
From manure to money: Ten bizarre facts about the French Parliament
Culture
Tourists picnic with rats in Louvre gardens
International
Is France really Europe's biggest public spenders?
National
Could your job in France soon be done by a robot?
National
Why you should think twice about feeding stray cats in France
National
And the new redrawn map of France will look like...?
Politics
Is French President François Hollande about to tie the knot?
International
Want a long-term visa? You may soon have to take a French test
International
Votes for foreigners: 'France would be giving up its sovereignty'
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se