France's highest court ruled yesterday that the country's mayors cannot refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages, thus rejecting a bid by a group of mayors who claimed gay marriage went against their moral or religious beliefs, the France 24 website reports today (October 19, 2013).
The Constitutional Council's ruling followed an appeal by mayors and registrars opposed to France's controversial bill legalizing same-sex marriages, which went into effect last May.
They argued that the same-sex marriage bill should have included a "freedom of conscience" clause, giving officiators the right not to carry out same-sex marriages if doing so conflicts with their personal religious or moral beliefs.
But France's highest legal authority rejected this argument in its ruling. "The Council judged that, in view of the functions of a state official in the officiating of a marriage, the legislation does not violate their freedom of conscience," the Council said in a statement. France's mayors now plan to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights, which serves as the "supreme court" for all the member nations of the European Union (EU).