France has banned mayors from opting out of same-sex marriage, it was ruled today (18 October).
The Constitutional Court ruled mayors cannot refuse to marry gay couples on the grounds of religious or moral objections.
‘The mayors and their deputies, who are registrars, are not eligible for a conscience clause and must therefore marry couples of the same sex,’ they said in a statement.
‘The council considered that, having regard to the functions of the registrar of civil status in the marriage, the legislature did not violate their freedom of conscience.’
After several mayors in towns across France publicly refused to officiate a gay wedding, it is a serious blow to opponents of equality.
In June, Arcangues mayor Jean-Michel Colo refused to marry two gay men.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls told him they were would be ‘significant sanctions’.
Any public servant who disobeys the law could be found guilty of discrimination, and potentially go to jail for three years as well as paying €45,000 ($61.6k) in damages.
The same month, Matha mayor Claude Binaud refused to marry two men but said he ‘might marry two girls’.
After months of fierce debate, protests and violence, France finally legalized same-sex marriage earlier this summer. The first gay couple were married on 29 May.