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Gay Couple Arrested in Texas for Demanding Right to Marry; Face Elevated Charges
Photo: Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler
On July 5, Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler applied for a marriage license they knew they’d never get.
Texas, where the two men live, has a ban on same-sex marriages—and officials who issue licenses can face criminal charges. The Dallas County clerk teared up when they explained how they’d met and how in love they were, but she couldn’t give them a marriage license.
So Jiminez and Chandler sat down on the records office floor, handcuffed themselves together, and refused to leave until they were granted license to wed. When the police arrived, the two men were arrested and hauled to jail.
The couple chose to wed the day after Independence Day for its national significance, drawing attention to the liberty denied them by Texas’s 2005-enacted ban on same-sex marriage.
Now, Jiminez and Chandler are charged of criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail. Activist group GetEQUAL claim the charges are elevated, as political arrests are usually a class C misdemeanor.
Furthermore, the court has ordered them to face separate trials—different rooms, same time—which both doubles their court costs and underscores the state’s refusal to legally recognize their relationship.
After he was released on bond, Jiminez told the press that he wasn’t cowed by the possibility of jail or hefty fines. “I stand before each and every one of you and tell you that I would spend 181 days in jail as an unjust penalty for trying to marry the man I love and as soon as I got out I would start the process over again,” he said. “We will be married.”
Their trials are set for August 2.
Texas is one of 33 states with an explicit ban on any recognition of same-sex unions. On the same day that the couple applied for a marriage license, Chandler filed the initial paperwork to change his last name to Jiminez—it’s as close as they can currently get to appearing married in the eyes of the law.