The mayor of a French town who defied the government by conducting the country's first gay wedding launched legal proceedings Thursday to fight the sanctions against him. Noel Mamere, mayor of the town of Begles, near Bordeaux, filed two motions to overturn the ruling that suspended him from the job for a month, his office said.
Mamere, who is also a leading Green Party lawmaker, officiated at the June 5 marriage between two men, defying the government and saying he wanted to take a step toward ending discrimination of all kinds. In France mayors carry out civil marriages. Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin announced the sanction against Mamere, basing the decision on a law allowing the suspension of mayors who
"gravely misunderstand the duties of their office."
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and other French authorities had urged Mamere not to officiate at the marriage, saying he would be in breach of the civil code. Mamere denied having done anything illegal. His lawyer, Caroline Mecary, filed two motions in Bordeaux on his behalf--one to annul the decision against him, and another to suspend its execution. The politician called his suspension "defamatory, out of proportion, scandalous, and misplaced."
"I took the risk of being sanctioned, and I accept the consequences," Mamere told a news conference Thursday. But he said he would fight the measure, adding that the government "is disguising a purely political decision with an administrative sanction." The exchange of vows between Stephane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier was recorded by television cameras and journalists. Mamere wore the blue, white, and red sash of the French Republic when he married the couple. Prosecutor Bertrand de Loze has since moved to get the marriage annulled. But a lawyer for the couple, Remy Giemza, has said he would take the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if need be.