Stephane Chapin, dressed in a white suit and dabbing tears of joy from his eyes, and Bertrand Charpentier, in deep gray pinstripes, embraced, kissed and smiled broadly after the brief civil ceremony in the Begles town hall in southwestern France, near Bordeaux.
The justice minister quickly said that the Bordeaux court would be petitioned to declare the marriage null, while the interior minister said the mayor who performed the ceremony — a Green party politician known as a provocateur — would be sanctioned.
Begles Mayor Noel Mamere defiantly wore the blue, white and red ribbons — France’s national colors — that are conferred on mayors as representatives of the state and used during all official functions.
In France, mayors perform civil marriages, which are required by law.
“I regret nothing,” he said later.
Mamere, choked with emotion, said his decision to marry the two men despite a multitude of warnings was a gesture in the name of tolerance.
“This is not a media operation,” Mamere said, adding that he performed the marriage as a gesture toward all those who suffer discrimination “for their skin color, their religion, their social status and also their sexual orientation.”
Cameras were trained on the couple during the ceremony as about 500 demonstrators, some for and some against the marriage, stood outside, cheering or denouncing the union.0