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Friday, 26 April 2013

Jean-Claude Massiou, the French mayor who says he won't marry same-sex couples

The National Assembly has only just voted to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt (and remember it still has to be approved by the country's Conseil Constitutionnel or Constitutional Council with opponents hoping their appeal will require the bill returning to parliament in a revised form) and already one mayor has said neither he nor any of his elected officials will respect the law.

Jean-Claude Massiou from the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) is mayor of the village of Abjat-sur-Bandiat (population 651) in the département of La Dordogne.

Mayor of Abjat-sur-Bandiat, Jean-Claude Massiou (screenshot from website 24Gay.fr)

True to his pre-vote stance when he campaigned against the bill, Massiou insists his views haven't changed, even after Tuesday's parliamentary vote.

If a couple of the same sex living his village ask to be married at the mairie, Massiou says he'll simply refuse "politely" and without any "aggression."

"It's not homophobia or anything," he told a local radio station.

"It's a matter of principle: marriage is between a man and a woman," he continued, seemingly ignorant of the fact that is no longer the case.

And Massiou doesn't seem particularly worried about the possibility of sanctions for breaking the law by discriminating against couples of the same sex and refusing to marry them; maximum three years imprisonment and a fine of €45,000.

"We"ll see what happens because there has been a precedent set when Noël Mamère (the mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Bègles) conducted a marriage ceremony for two men (in 2004)."

"It wasn't legal (or recognised) but no action was taken against Mamère."

Maybe Massiou should take a leaf out of a fellow UMP mayor (and one who's slightly better-known) Rachida Dati.

She is of course a former justice minister - the position currently held by the woman who had to steer the bill through both chambers of parliament, Christiane Taubira

Just like Massiou, Dati was an outspoken opponent of the bill before it passed but knows how to accept defeat gracefully (well, in this case at least).

Invited on to Wednesday's lunchtime news magazine on Canal + "La Nouvelle Edition" to explain why she had decided to pull out of the race for her party's nomination for mayor of Paris, Dati was also asked to comment on the previous day's vote.

And in particular whether she would, as mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, marry couples of the same sex.

"I'm an elected official and the law has been passed by parliament although it still has to be enacted," she said.

"I represent an arrondissement where there are many opponents to same-sex marriage, but just like them, I shall respect the laws of the republic."

Are you listening M. Massiou?

Perhaps you should follow Dati's example and instead concentrate on organising the event for which your village is apparently better known - the annual French National Conker Championships.

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