France, it turns out, has its own version of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis — a public official who’s trying to avoid any duties connected with same-sex marriages — and like Davis, she may suffer legal consequences for it.
Sabrina Hout, a former deputy mayor of Marseille, was in the city’s municipal court Tuesday to face charges of discrimination through her actions to avoid performing the marriage of two women a year ago. This is the first such case since France legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, reports French news outlet Europe 1.
When the women, Hélène Burucoa and Claude Genart, came to her office to be married August 16, 2014, Hout claimed she was not feeling well and had a borough council member perform the marriage.
However, borough council members, unlike deputy mayors, are not authorized to perform marriages. A city investigation led to Burucoa and Genart’s marriage being declared invalid, and they were finally legally married last Valentine’s Day.
In court today, various character witnesses appeared on Hout’s behalf, with some saying she is not homophobic, reports French newspaper Libération. The lawyer for the couple said, however, “My clients do not care whether you are or not. They say they have been discriminated against because you refused to marry them. You were in an internal conflict that you resolved in doing wrong.”
Hout, who is Muslim, claimed her religion did not preclude her performing a same-sex marriage, but it was simply something new for her. One witness, however, said Hout’s relatives had told her she would go to hell for participating in such a marriage, according to Libération. That echoes a statement released by Kim Davis today, in which she called her decision whether to license same-sex marriages “a heaven or hell decision.”
Hout said today that she wanted to see the couple to wish them happiness, but they did not care to see her.
The judge in Hout’s case will issue his verdict and sentence September 29. The prosecutor has requested a three-month suspended sentence and a fine of €1,500.