France: Gay couple who filed complaint as mayor refused to officiate wedding finally marry

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A gay couple who were forced to file an officia complaint as their town’s mayor became the first in France to refuse to perform a same-sex wedding, are now married.

Guy Martineau-Espel and Jean-Michel Martin last month filed the complaint against Jean-Michel Colo, the mayor of Arcangues, as he refused to officiate at their wedding.

Colo, 60, the first French mayor to refuse to perform a same-sex wedding, said he would rather be hanged than officiate at a gay couple’s wedding. He said that because gay couples are “sterile”, equal marriage is a “parody” of equality, and that it is a “big lie”.

With around thirty family and friends, the couple married at 17:30 on Monday as the deputy mayor Didier Maisterrena, announced: “I declare you married”.

The couple of 16 years, who own a property in the village, had hoped to wed in August. They had attempted to come to a compromise, and hadn’t wanted to take their case public, but even on offering to have their ceremony outside of the regular marriage hall, Colo refused.

If found guilty of discrimination, and refusing to carry out his official duties, the mayor could face five years in prison, and a 75,000 euro (£64,000) fine.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls, had already warned Colo of “significant sanctions”, saying that any public servants failing to respect the law would be guilty of discrimination.

Following months of sometimes violent protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, French President Hollande signed the law making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage, back in May.