Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Mayors cannot refuse to ‘marry’ homosexual couples: French Constitutional Court

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
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Oct. 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - French mayors and members of municipal councils in charge of registering civil status will not be allowed to invoke a right to conscientious objection to justify their refusal to celebrate same sex “marriages,” the French Constitutional Court decided last Friday. 

Two groups of mayors had brought the issue before the Court. But the court’s decision now puts an end to their hopes of finding a loophole to guarantee that elected civil rights officers who object to same sex “marriage” will have their conscience rights respected. 

The mayors’ appeal was made on the grounds of several articles of the Constitution that protect citizens’ right to freedom of conscience, including the Declaration of Human Rights of 1789. That declaration guarantees, “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, and even his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.” 

The applicants argued that “opening marriage to same-sex couples is contrary to the personal convictions of a large number of mayors and deputy mayors” and that they have the right not to undergo “prejudice in their job or their work because of their opinions or beliefs.” 

The Court responded saying that in celebrating marriages mayors and their deputies are publicly accomplishing a “republican ceremony” in the name of the State, according to the law and that this law does not allow for conscientious objection in order to obtain the “proper functioning and neutrality of the public civil status service.” Given the role mayors and their deputies are expected to accomplish, this is in no way contrary to “liberty of conscience,” the court argued. 

Month’s before France’s same-sex “marriage” bill was adopted, president François Hollande’s had made statements suggesting that provisions would be made for safeguarding mayors' “liberty of conscience.” This was then interpreted as a promise that a conscience clause would be added to the law. 

But in response proponents of gay “marriage” had accused the president of undermining their full rights. Hollande did not clarify the term and it soon became clear that by “liberty of conscience” he meant simply the right to think one way or another, not to act in accordance with one’s beliefs. 

Christiane Taubira, minister of Justice, said she is pleased with the Constitutional Court’s decision, underlining that “it leaves no space for personal assessment”.

“Now is the time for acceptance and normalization”, said the minister for the Family, Dominique Bertinotti (Bertinotti recently went on record as saying that she does not want to “defend the family”, but to “promote all new types of families”: “The democratic debate is over”, she said.) 

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Ludovine de La Rochère, president of the “Manif pour tous,” which repeatedly organized protests of hundreds of thousands of protesters against same-sex “marriage” during debate on the new law, called the decision “a very big disappointment”: “The mayors’ liberty has been trampled upon.” 

On the other hand, several deputies of the UMP (Sarkozy’s party) who played a prominent role in the battle against same-sex “marriage” have softened their stance. Jean-François Copé, who hopes to run for president in 2017 – and who was present at more than one anti-gay “marriage” demonstration – recently said that he had never really been against the law. Several other National Assembly members who are also mayors are now saying that they will celebrate same-sex “marriages” in full respect of the democratically voted law. 

However, Marie-Claude Bompard, mayor of the southern town of Bollène, followed by Jean-Michel Colo, mayor of a mountain village in the Pyrénées are considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Colo was the first to resist firmly against a request for a same-sex “marriage,” before being replaced by his deputy who volunteered to celebrate. 

But the two mayor's prospects of success appear less than bright, given that the European Court recently upheld a decision against a British citizen, Lilian Ladele, obliging her to register same-sex unions despite her Christian beliefs. It did so on the grounds that avoidance of discrimination against homosexuals is sufficient reason to allow for what amounts to discrimination against Christians. 

For many politicians, the battle against same-sex “marriage” in France is now over. But almost every day and every night, in many towns of France, young men and young women silently mount the guard in front of public institutions: they are the “Watchers” and the “Sentinels” who have promised that they shall “never, never, never give up” as long as same-sex “marriage” is legal in France.

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