Human Rights / Family

French « First » Same-Sex Marriage Highly Anticipated!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
After the Constitutional Council said « yes » as a contribution to the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th, Marriage For All has formally entered into force on Saturday 18th with President Hollande’s signature. News spread, the first marriage will take place in Montpellier, south of France, on May 29th.
« The first » ? Well... Bruno Boileau and Vincent Autin will become the first same-sex couple to have their marriage legally valid. Symbolicaly though, same-sex marriages were performed long before the drafting of the Bill.
Vincent Autin (left), president of Inter-LGBT Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon, and Bruno Boileau.[1]
Indeed, the very « first » marriage was celebrated between two men on June 2004, in Bègles (southwest of France). Mayor Noël Mamère had performed the union so as to show support and raise debate over issue on marriage for all. The night preceding the event, the Mayor had even slept in the City Hall to make sure nobody would prevent him from performing the ceremony! A ceremony that cost him one month suspension from duty for having breached the law by marrying two men. Eventually, the so called « Mariage de Bègles » was judicially declared contrary to legislation in 2007 and revoked.
Taking a stand to raise concern among their fellow politicians, more Mayors had then « engaged » in symbolic same-sex marriage practice[2] but without producing any legal documents. As a matter of fact, those cases of civil resistance had unfortunately no impact on administrative recognition of same-sex couples who were, at the time, only allowed a civil contract called « PACS » (not guaranteeing them as many rights as marriage would have). As such, May 29th will definitely stand as « the first » marriage symbolizing further step toward equality.
Having said that, political opposition to the Bill remains active and a new protest against Marriage For All is expected on the 26th. Some rightwing Mayors have publically declared that they would not give way to any demand for same-sex marriage in their municipality, invoking their « freedom of conscience ».
Would any such thing be likely to happened ? Not a chance.
As civil servants, Mayors have the duty to enforce the law regardless of their individual believes or opinions. As a result, there should be no municipality refusing to celebrate same-sex couple’s unions. If there were, reluctant civil servants would be sanctioned just has Mamère was in 2004 and compelled to respect legislation but, this time, not heteronormativity.
Bertrand Charpentier and Stéphane Chapin’s marriage by Noël Mamère (center)[3]

[1]    Photo : AFP PASCAL GUYOT
[2]    -

[3]    Photo : 

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