Couple released after marriage sit-in arrest

Posted on 06 Jul 2012 at 3:28pm

LGBT protesters gather outside the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on Thursday evening.

Beau Chandler, left, and Mark "Major" Jiminez apply for a marriage license at the clerk's office.

After about four hours in custody, Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler were released from jail after being charged with criminal trespass, a class-B misdemeanor. The couple refused to leave the County Clerk’s office on Thursday when they applied for and were denied their marriage license.

“The arresting officers were very quiet in the police cars,” Jiminez said. “But we told them we weren’t trying to be assholes.”

When they got to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, they were processed and put in holding, where there are three TVs. A story about their arrests had just appeared on Channel 8 when they got there.

The others being held turned to them and said, “Hey! I know you!”

“We had a discussion with a community I never thought I would have this discussion with,” Jiminez said. They talked to the others in the holding cell about marriage equality.

Someone Jiminez described as a “friendly cop” escorted them to the 7th floor.

“Just please don’t kiss or hold hands,” the detention officer told them. As they were being escorted,  other officers asked if they could help. But the “friendly” officer told them, “No, I got this.”

Bail was set at $500 each. The couple withdrew the money from the ATM outside the courtroom inside the jail.

As they left Lew Sterrett, they were figuring out how to get back to their cars, which were parked near the Records Building a few blocks away.

On the corner they saw some protesters.

“We thought Westboro Baptist had come down to protest us,” Jiminez said.

But he said they saw members of the DFW Sisters and other friends and supporters.

“They told us they were prepared to stand there all night until we got out,” he said.

When they got home, they had 400 emails. Jiminez said that by the time he answered 150 of them, there were 200 more.

The couple has a court date at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 2. They both have the same date and time, but will appear in different courtrooms.

A class-B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a maximum $2,000 fine.

Jiminez said they are looking for an attorney and plan to plead not guilty. If convicted, they plan to appeal.

“We took this step and we’re not gonna let it stop,” he said.

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