June 12, 2013 ( – The mayor of a small town in France’s Basque region has announced his refusal to carry out a “marriage” between two men who reside in his jurisdiction, becoming the first mayor to defy the country’s new law that applies the name and rights of “matrimony” to couples of the same sex.

Jean-Michel Colo, a conservative who heads the town of Arcangues in the southern Basque region of Pyrenees-Atlantiques, faces the possibility of a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of 75,000 euros (100,000 USD), according to French media sources.   However, he appears to be unafraid of the consequences of his stand, telling the media that he will “go all the way to the gallows” to oppose the law. 

“I don’t give lessons, I’m not inciting other mayors to follow my example, but I won’t enforce an illegitimate law,” says Colo. “My seven councilmen and I are completely in agreement in saying that we will not participate in this charade.” 


The mayor’s stand is expected to be only the first of many that are likely to occur under the new law, which went into effect on May 28.  In addition to the town council’s support, Colo says he has received 1,500 messages of support to date. 

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As reported in April of this year, the national organization Mayors for Children has stated that almost 15,000 mayors, mostly of small towns, intend to refuse to perform such “marriages,” which is the responsibility of city officials in France.  The group says that 20,000 have signed a petition stating “I am opposed to the bill that opens marriage and the adoption of children by two people of the same sex.” 

The socialist government of President Francois Hollande, which passed the homosexual “marriage” bill despite unprecedented protests by millions of French, has stated that it will not grant conscience exemptions for public officials who refuse to cooperate, and is hinting at punitive action for Colo. 

“The laws are applicable everywhere and there can’t be the least violation of equality,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned in respónse to Colo’s defiance. “I hope that reason wins out there (in Arcangues) as elsewhere,” he added. 

Although the couple seeking the “marriage,” Jean-Michel Martin and Guy Martineau-Espel , say they are adverse to having recourse to the law, they also hint that they may take that step if they are not given what they want soon.

“The mayor will have 15 days to indicate his refusal to marry us and we will be able to go to the Procurator (Attorney General) of the Republic,” Jean-Michel told Le Parisian in a recent interview.

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Jean-Michel Colo, Mayor of Arcangues