France's highest court has ruled that city officials cannot refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples.

Plaintiffs in the case, a group of mayors and registrars opposed to France's marriage law, which came into effect in May after a heated debate, argued that the law was unconstitutional because it did not include a “freedom of conscience” clause which would allow officiators the right to refuse to marry gay couples if it conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs.

But France's highest court, the Constitutional Council, disagreed in a decision handed down Friday morning, the AFP reported.

“The Council judged that, in view of the function of a state official in the officiating of a marriage, the legislation does not violate their freedom of conscience,” the Council stated.

The ruling was denounced by Arcangues Mayor Jean-Michel Colo, the first official to refuse to marry a gay couple.

“The Constitutional Council has been manipulated by politics,” Colo told the AFP. “It is a political decision.”

Colo said that the group would take its case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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