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French court rules mayors must conduct same-sex marriages

France's top court has ruled that mayors cannot refuse to carry out same-sex marriages on the grounds it goes against their religious or moral beliefs. Same-sex marriage was signed into law in May.

The Constitutional Council's ruling on Friday followed an appeal by several mayors who said the same-sex marriage legislation should have allowed municipal authorities to opt out on the grounds of "freedom of conscience." However, the court rejected the argument and ruled that the disputed part of the legislation was constitutional.

In France, marriages can only be made official by city authorities.

President Hollande signed the bill into law in May following the Council's dismissal of a legal challenge, making France the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The legislation also legalizes adoption by same-sex partners.

The same-sex marriage debate has divided France, a mostly Catholic country. Protests against the bill drew hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who clashed with police leading up to the passage of the legislation.

hc/ccp (AFP, AP)

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