In the wake of the DOMA and Prop 8 Supreme Court decisions, we are reminded that maybe the political right in the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on anti-gay behavior.
Meet Jean-Michel Colo, mayor of the French commune of Arcangues. He’s taking the bold, principled stance of…denying a gay couple the right to be married.
Wait. This is France, right? Like, the one in Europe? Aren’t they supposed to be more open-minded when it comes to stuff like this? I guess that’ll teach me to paint Europeans with a broad brush.
Anyway, back in April, France became the 14th nation to legalize the marriages of same-sex couples, and the very first of those marriages was performed on May 29. It was a major campaign promise by French president Francois Hollande. There were major protests backed by – surprise, surprise! – the Catholic Church, but in the end justice won. However, that doesn’t keep some particularly entrenched people – like Colo – from dragging their feet.
Colo is the first elected official in France to refuse to marry a gay couple. He could face up to five years in prison and a $98,000 fine for refusing to marry Jean-Michel Martin and Guy Martineau-Espel. According to Martin, he and Martineau-Espel didn’t want to cause a stir. In an effort to respect Colo’s beliefs – which, I might add, is more than Colo is willing to do in his capacity as an elected official – Martin and Martineau-Espel tried to offer a compromise. According to Raw Story:
“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.”
For his part, Colo was kind of a jerk who basically would rather die than marry two men.
Defending his stand, Colo said earlier: “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.”
“I will go to the gallows” rather than back down, Colo said.
Oooooh OK. So if a straight couple is sterile he probably wouldn’t approve of their marriage. It’s all OK, then. Stay classy.
The French Interior Minister has warned Colo that he could face “significant sanctions” and that public officials who refuse to respect the law are guilty of discrimination and might get up to three years in prison and be called to pay 45,000 euros in damages.
And so the lawsuit goes forward. Hopefully Martin and Martineau-Espel with find justice.
Image credit: Flickr