French mayor suspended for conducting gay wedding

June 17, 2004

Noel Mamere
Photo - AFP
PARIS — France's interior minister on Tuesday suspended a leading Green party lawmaker from his job as mayor of a southwestern town for one month for conducting a homosexual marriage in defiance of authorities.

Noel Mamere, mayor of Begles, near Bordeaux, officiated at a June 5 marriage between two men, saying he wanted to take a step toward ending discrimination of all kinds.

The order from Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin was based on a law allowing the suspension of mayors who "gravely misunderstand their duties," the ministry said in a statement.

The order was to take effect as soon as Mamere was formally notified.

In France, mayors conduct civil marriages – the only ones with legal weight. However, they do so under the authority of the state prosecutor.

"The mayor of Begles was, therefore, required to respect the instructions addressed to him by the prosecutor" – to call the marriage off, de Villepin said.

"When he exercises the functions of officer of the civil state, the mayor acts in the name of the state and not of the town," the statement said.

In addition, de Villepin said that Mamere "willingly aggravated the fault he committed" by defying the law despite numerous demands that he not go ahead with the ceremony and by "giving widespread publicity to the ceremony over which he presided."

Mamere, who has a reputation as a political provocateur, wore the blue, white and red sash of the French Republic when he married Stephane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier at the Begles town hall.

The event was filmed by television cameras and attended by journalists.

Hours after the marriage, Justice Minister Dominique Perben said that the Bordeaux court would be petitioned to declare the vows null and de Villepin warned that Mamere would be sanctioned.

Prosecutor Bertrand de Loze has since moved ahead to get the marriage annuled. However, a lawyer for the couple, Remy Giemza, has said he would take the case all the way to the Europe Court for Human Rights, if need be.

Mamere could also face a fine of up .1,504.50 (US$1,835). In addition, the Cabinet could take the matter further and issue a decree revoking his title of mayor, but such a move would be highly unusual. – Sapa-AP

Related stories
French prosecutor seeks to have gay wedding declared null [14/06/2004]



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