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French mayor prefers ‘gallows’ over performing gay marriage

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — While Montpellier mayor Hélène Mandroux happily officiated at the recent marriage of two gay men, her counterpart in the town of Arcangues says he'd prefer to "go to the gallows" before doing the same, Pink News reports.

Jean-Michel Colo's refusal to marry a gay couple, Guy Martineau-Espel and Jean-Michel Martin, means that he could face time in jail and a fine of up to 75,000 euros. 

According to the report, Colo denies accusations that he's homophobic, arguing that "marriage is for a woman and man to have children." He says he's "not discriminating as a same-sex couple is sterile. It’s a parody of equality, it’s a big lie.”

France's minister of the interior, Manuel Valls, has said that "elects who do not respect the laws of the republic will risk significant sanctions.”

Regardless of the consequences, Colo says he prefers to "go to the gallows" rather than perform a same-sex ceremony. 

Pink News says the couple were surprised their application was rejected and tried to find a compromise, but Colo refused to budge from his stance. Martineau-Espel and Martin will now reportedly take the matter to court. 

After she performed the marriage of Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau, hailed as France's first same-sex wedding, Mandroux continued to receive threats and was sent a package of feces.

Impassioned rhetoric, often violent protests, and a reported uptick in anti-gay attacks accompanied the progression of the government's gay marriage bill through the French parliament to final passage last month. But the legalization of same-sex marriage has not deterred those opposing its enactment from continuing their protest. 

The law's opponents poured into Paris streets in their thousands late last month, with varying estimates of the turnout ranging from 150,000 to 400,000 people. That protest, which several media outlets say started off peacefully, descended into violence, tear gas and arrests. Some media reports indicated that rightwing hardliners, opposed to François Hollande and his Socialist government, sparked the violence.

Days after gay marriage became law, Dominique Venner, described as a hard-right activist and fierce opponent of gay marriage, shot himself at the altar of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Then last week, 18-year-old student activist Clement Méric died after he was allegedly attacked with a knuckle duster and hit his head on the ground when he fell. He was put on life support at hospital but died June 6. The French government now says it's seeking to break up a rightwing group called the Revolutionary Nationalist Youth allegedly linked to Méric's death.