GetEQUAL calls charges and penalties excessive for gay couple arrested in marriage sit-in

Posted on 09 Jul 2012 at 1:44pm

Beau Chandler, left, and Mark Jiminez used their jail mugshots to create this equal rights poster.

GetEQUAL issued a press release Monday in which the group calls the charges excessive for the gay couple that was arrested after appling for a marriage license and refusing to leave the Dallas County Clerk’s Office when it was denied.

Beau Chandler and Mark “Major” Jiminez were charged with class-B misdemeanor criminal trespassing, which carries a maximum $2,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail.

“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. We will be married,” Jiminez said Thursday night to a crowd gathered at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center that had been waiting for the couple’s release.

Chandler said: “We will continue to demand our marriage licenses until the answer is yes. We owe it to ourselves to do what our hearts tell us is right.”

GetEQUAL Texas state co-coordinator Michael Diviesti said: “The day after we celebrated our country’s freedom, Mark and Beau stood with courage for their freedom to marry, only to be arrested. Shame on our government for putting them through this. Texans are standing up to demand that discrimination be removed from the books. It is up to our government to work for the people. We are outraged that this couple is facing 180 days in jail and more than double the normal fine for demanding their equal right to civil marriage.”

Diviesti said arrests stemming from political sit-ins are usually handled as class-C misdemeanors with a maximum $250 fine.

The couple is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 2 at 8:30 a.m. at the Frank Crowley Courthouse, but they are slated for separate courtrooms. Jiminez said he wonders whether that was done purposely to force the couple to hire separate attorneys, keep them from supporting each other in court and split supporters who want to see the trials — further undermining gay and lesbian families. Both plan to plead not guilty.

Diviesti urged supporters to gather at the Crowley building on Aug. 2 at 8 a.m. to support the couple.

Jiminez and Chandler are scheduled to appear on Lambda Weekly at 7 a.m. Wednesday, on 89.3 KNON-fm.

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