“There are times when you have to be an outlaw,” declared Cabestany's mayor Jean Vila before Saturday morning’s ceremony, appealing to other mayors to follow his example.
Saturday’s happy couple, 37-year-old artist Guillaume and 48-year-old photo-lab manager Patrick, say they were married both as a demonstration of love and as an activist gesture so that “very soon in France two people of the same sex can get married legally”.
“We are citizens, the same as everybody else,” they commented.
Their marriage lines contain the phrase “unfortunately this document has no official character, since the law today forbids marriage between people of the same sex, but it signifies the wish of the local authority to see the law change”.
The only gay marriage so far celebrated in France, in the western town of Bègles in 2004, was annulled by the courts.
Although France introduced civil partnerships, known as Pacs, in 1999, the Constitutional Council this year ruled that the law defines marriage as being “the union of a man and a woman”.
But several abstained and Solidarity Minister Roselyne Bachelot, who supports a change, declared that the question would be “the debate” of the 2012 presidential election.
Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Portugal do recognise gay marriage.
Families Minister Claude Greff slammed Saturday’s ceremony as an “electoralist provocation” ahead of the 2012 presidential poll, claiming that it would only make positions more rigid.
Gay marriage around the world