French mayors demand gay marriage ‘withdrawal clause’

Right-wing politicians say they should not be forced to conduct marriages between same-sex couples

French mayors demand gay marriage ‘withdrawal clause’
13 October 2012

French mayors and elected officials are demanding a ‘right of withdrawal’ when marriage equality laws come into effect.

Deputy mayor Jacques Bompard, of the far-right National Front party, launched a petition which currently has over 1,200 signatures.

The petition says: ‘I propose to introduce, should this dire law regrettably be adopted, an article establishing a right of withdrawal under a conscience clause for mayors and deputy mayors who wish it.’

Ever since President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced they were going to introduce same-sex marriage laws to France, right-wing political parties and the Catholic Church have spoken out in fury.

Speaking to Sipa press agency, center right mayor Raymond Couderc said: ‘This is categorical. For me to perform a gay marriage ceremony is out of the question.

‘If there is no conscience clause, I will place myself outside the law.’

Dominique Bertinotti, Junior Minister for Families, said there was no reason for legal exceptions.

‘We can’t both ask our citizens to be very respectful of the law and, once elected to serve the Republic, be exempt.’

However, if some were to refuse to marry two people of the same sex, she later added mayors could have the possibility of having deputies who can do it in their place.

Ayrault said mayors who represent the state will be careful to respect the laws passed by government, but should be allowed to pass on their responsibilities to deputies.

‘If it’s not the mayor, if it’s a deputy, I respect that,’ he said.

France has roughly 150,000 mayors and deputy mayors serving across the country.

On Wednesday (10 October), Ayrault named 31 October as the date when a draft law authorizing marriage equality will be approved by government ministers.

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