• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Gay couple sue mayor over wedding refusal

AFP/The Local · 26 Jun 2013, 12:08

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Madonna's ex fined for this selfie with sleeping Le Pen
Photo: Brahim Zaibat

Madonna's ex fined for this selfie with sleeping Le Pen
1 hour ago

But only one euro.

French MPs vote through post attacks constitution changes
Photo: AFP

French MPs vote through post attacks constitution changes
2 hours ago

UPDATED: French lawmakers have voted in favour of changing the constitution following the terror attacks on Paris in November.

Champagne and cognac lead record French alcohol exports
Photo: Andy Wright/Flickr

Champagne and cognac lead record French alcohol exports
2 hours ago

France scored record-breaking sales of wines and spirits in 2015, thanks mainly to robust exports of champagne and cognac, with €11.7 billion ($13.15 billion) flowing in.

France rolls out fake speed cameras (but where are they?)
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France rolls out fake speed cameras (but where are they?)
4 hours ago

France has began rolling out its new legion of fake speed cameras, which will soon number in the thousands, but where are they exactly?

Seven saved after 22 hours trapped in French cave
Archive photo: AFP

Seven saved after 22 hours trapped in French cave
6 hours ago

A group of cavers was safely pulled from an underground chasm in south western France after their way out was blocked by rising flood waters.

Revealed: The huge cost of France's ex-presidents
Sarkozy, Giscard, and Chirac. France's three living former presidents bag €6.2 million a year between them. Photo: AFP

Revealed: The huge cost of France's ex-presidents
6 hours ago

The salaries of France's former presidents have been revealed - and they're enormous.

From blood scandal to climate deal: Laurent Fabius bows out
Photo: AFP

From blood scandal to climate deal: Laurent Fabius bows out
7 hours ago

He's a very, very rich man, has a very naughty son was no stranger to a scandal, and famously slapped down David Cameron's attempts to reform the EU. Laurent Fabius has left the building.

Fabius quits as Hollande pins hopes on final reshuffle
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President François Hollande. Photo: AFP

Fabius quits as Hollande pins hopes on final reshuffle
8 hours ago

France's foreign minister quit on Wednesday as the French president hopes a final reshuffle will boost his government's popularity before next year's elections.

Outrage after the 'English massacre French crepes'
Photo: Imgur

Outrage after the 'English massacre French crepes'
9 hours ago

A photo of a pile of crepes cut like a cake has prompted "declarations of war" from France after going viral in France. And it's all (apparently) the fault of the English.

'Two children killed' in French school bus crash
Archive photo: AFP

'Two children killed' in French school bus crash
10 hours ago

A crash involving a school bus in eastern France has left two children dead, according to reports.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
Business & Money
Champagne and cognac lead record French alcohol exports
Politics
Scandals and deals: Fabius bows out (but he won't be short of cash)
Society
The English called 'barbarians' after this 'massacre' of French crepes
National
This terrifying video shows why you should avoid the sea during a storm
Lifestyle
A closer look at the 11 different American expats you'll meet in France
Gallery
Ten reasons why France is a great place to work
Politics
Why France is unlikely to force UK to move border back home
Society
The French foods you need to eat (in moderation) to stay healthy
Lifestyle
So where do all the Americans live in France and where do they avoid?
Public warned as gale force winds and giant waves lash the French coastline
Lifestyle
How Paris plans to become a 'model' of cleanliness - that's not a joke
Only in France - Pig's entrails, cheese and steak sold in vending machines
Travel
Wait... that's not snow! Check out France's most unique ski slope
Culture
Don't panic, France isn't bidding a final adieu to the circumflex
Culture
VIDEO: UK group performs Shakespeare for Calais refugees
National
France cuts more red tape: E.G. No license needed to collect horse's sperm
Gallery
How France could really simplify the French language (for us learners)
Culture
Say good bye to 'oignon': How 2,400 French words will get new spellings
Sport
US calls on French help to prevent 'Paris-style' attack at Super Bowl
Culture
Betty Blue star Béatrice Dalle says she ate a dead man's ear (while on acid)
Analysis & Opinion
It's no surprise the French are losing faith in Hollande's war on terror
Culture
What's on: Here are 10 great things to do in France in February
Culture
The 300-metre monument Paris could have had instead of the Eiffel Tower
3,515
jobs available