GetEQUAL TX plans Olympics protest, marriage equality rally this weekend

People flooded theCedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

People flooded Cedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, the protest in San Antonio has been postponed.

ORIGINAL POST: LGBT advocates plan to protest Coca-Cola at the company’s bottling plant in San Antonio on Friday, the opening day of the Winter Games in Sochi, and then rally to support marriage equality in Fort Worth on Saturday.

The protest, organized by GetEQUAL TX, urges Coca-Cola to expand its LGBT support from a national focus to a global one.

“As a sponsor of the Olympic,s Coca Cola has the chance to become a leader on global human rights forefront by demanding the International Olympic Commission refuse any future bid from countries that use the law to persecute LGBTQ people who simply wish to live with dignity,” GetEQUAL TX states in a press release.

Then on Saturday, Cowtown-area activists will gather at Avoca Coffee to protest the freedom to marry in Texas in support of a marriage lawsuit filed by a Plano and Austin couple in San Antonio federal court. A hearing for a temporary injunction to prohibit state officials from enforcing Texas’ marriage ban takes place Feb. 12.

Among the speakers on Saturday are Dallas couple Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who were arrested in their attempts to receive a marriage license in Dallas

“With a legal battle taking place in San Antonio, I could not help to think of the many civil rights that have been fought for in wars and completely forsaken,” protest organizer Damon Carver said. “After overturning DOMA, most of the nation celebrated good news, some couples who resorted to tourist weddings had great news. On this day we will be presumptuously toasting to celebrate our victories.”

“Defecting to another state for any freedom including marriage is anti-American, and will soon be anti-Texan,” he added.

Rally participants are encouraged to wear different styles of cowboy hats to the event since Texans are represented with cowboy hats. and the different styles represent the variety in the LGBT community.

The protest in San Antonio is 6 p.m. Friday at the bottling plant, located at 1 Coca-Cola Place.

The marriage rally is noon Saturday at Avoca Coffee, located at 1311 W. Magnolia Ave. in Fort Worth.

—  Dallasvoice

Charges dismissed against 1 of 2 gay Dallas men arrested at marriage sit-in

Mark ‘Major’ Jiminez, left, and Beau Chandler outside the courthouse this morning.

UPDATE: Dallas attorney Chad West, one of the couple’s attorneys, said the dismissal was a plea bargain and Chandler could still push the case to trial if he wanted. However, he said the couple wanted a trial or dismissal and this was the only way to get a dismissal in this case.

“In my mind, it’s a complete win,” he said. “There’s nothing better than this other than a full dismissal.”

Assistant District Attorney Jessica Trevizo, the prosecutor on Chandler’s case, said the case is a conditional dismissal and would be dismissed when the community service was completed. She declined to comment on why the case wasn’t simply dismissed altogether.

ORIGINAL POST:

Beau Chandler and Mark “Major” Jiminez, the couple arrested at a marriage equality sit-in in July, are one step closer to their goal. The couple has vowed to see their charges of criminal trespass through to trial unless their cases are dismissed.

Chandler’s case was dismissed Tuesday during his first court appearance. Supporters lined up for a rally in the chilly weather in front of Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building before the couple went inside.

One of the couple’s attorneys, Chad West, met with the assistant district attorney and agreed to a dismissal and a waive of the $650 fine if Chandler completes 40 hours of community service.

Chandler said he felt neutral after he learned the outcome because he wanted a full dismissal instead of community service. However, he and Jiminez often volunteer so 40 hours wouldn’t be hard to finish.

“I feel kind of neutral. I’m not happy. I’m not disappointed,” he said. “It’s a win.  All in all, it sort of worked out. It is a dismissal which was out ultimate goal.”

Jiminez said his two cases are still pending and he doesn’t know when his next court appearance will be. His cases were moved to another court, so he said that is part of the hold up.

More photos from the rally below.

—  Dallasvoice

Beau and Major marry!

After sparking an international movement for marriage equality with local protests and arrests, Beau Chandler and Mark “Major” Jiminez married Thursday night.

The two looked rather dapper dressed in white tuxes with yellow bow ties and rose flourishes. Among their closest friends and family, the couple married at a friend’s home near Bachman Lake and exchanged their vows in an intimate ceremony.

The reception that followed at the Dallas Eagle raised $788 in addition to a $200 anonymous donation before the event. The money will be divided among Youth First Texas and 89.3 KNON’s Lambda Weekly and the Sonic Assembly Hour programs.

Read more about their love story in last week’s cover story.

Congrats, you two!

—  Dallasvoice

BREAKING: Jiminez arrested again for protesting gay marriage

Chandler and Jiminez hug before Jiminez’s arrest at 4:30 this afternoon

Mark Jiminez was arrested for criminal trespassing at the County Records Building after he refused to leave the building.

Jiminez handcuffed himself to rope in the waiting line on the second floor of the County Records Building in protest of four Dallas same-sex couples denied marriage licenses.

Jiminez and Beau Chandler went back to the County Records Building this afternoon after their court hearings this morning. The two were arrested for criminal trespassing July 5 after refusing to leave the records building without a marriage license.

Chandler didn’t handcuff himself in order to get the bail money in case Jiminez is arrested.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jiminez and escorted him out of the building when it closed at 4:30 p.m.

—  Dallasvoice

Chandler and Jiminez have 1st court date amid marriage equality protest

A crowd of about 25 protested for marriage equality outside the Crowley Courts building as Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler made their first court appearance.

The couple was arrested on July 5 for criminal trespass in the County Records Building when they applied for their marriage license.

Attorneys Dax Garvin and Kim Butler spoke to the judges in criminal courts 4 and 5 to set their next court appearance. Jiminez has a date of Aug. 23 and Chandler Sept. 26. The cases will be tried separately.

After the court appearance, Jiminez and Butler met with supporters outside. Many marched back to the County Records Building where they were planning another sit-in in the marriage license bureau.

Sit-ins in support of the couple were planned in San Diego, Tampa and Ohio.

—  David Taffet

Gay Dallas couple arrested at marriage sit-in announces legal team

From left, Dax Garvin, Mark “Major” Jiminez, Beau Chandler, Kim Butler.

 

Mark “Major” Jiminez and Beau Chandler introduced their legal team to supporters on July 21. The couple hired their attorneys ahead of Aug. 2 hearings in their cases.

Attorneys Dax Garvin and Kim Butler will lead their defense team.

The couple was arrested for criminal trespass on July 5 after applying for a marriage license and refusing to leave the County Records Building when they were denied.

Garvin is a Travis County attorney who also represents three people arrested for a similar action in Austin on Valentine’s Day.

Butler is a Fort Worth attorney who specializes in same-sex families and criminal misdemeanors. She said the case is important to her because her interracial marriage would have been illegal before the Loving v. Virginia case.

GetEQUAL state lead Michael Diviesti said Aug. 2 is the anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence and called for action across Texas. He said he hoped to see protests, picketing and rallies in front of city halls or marriage bureaus. GetEQUAL has called the charges excessive.

Jiminez said that in Dallas, supporters will rally in front of the County Records Building at 8 a.m. and march to the Frank Crowley Courts Building ahead of the 8:30 a.m. hearings. The couple are scheduled in separate courts at the same time.

—  David Taffet

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

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.

—  David Taffet

Couple released after marriage sit-in arrest

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.

—  David Taffet

“This is about not being treated equal”

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE | A Dallas County sheriff’s deputy leads Beau Chandler to a patrol car after he was arrested at the Clerk’s Office on Thursday. Chandler and Mark Jiminez applied for a marriage license but were denied. View more photos and watch video at DallasVoice.com. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Gay Dallas couple Mark Jiminez, Beau Chandler arrested after being denied marriage license at Clerk’s Office in Independence Day protest

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

Gay couple Mark “Major” Jiminez and Beau Chandler were arrested at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office on Thursday afternoon, July 5, after they were denied a marriage license and refused to leave.

The couple entered the County Records Building at about 3 p.m. with friends, TV crews and friendly police in tow.

“City police, county sheriffs and building security are all here,” Chandler said. “Nice to get their support.”

Although he was joking, most of the people the couple encountered in the building were supportive, even if they were unable to issue the license.

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, accompanied the group, even though she didn’t have direct jurisdiction since they were in a county building. Lt. Shelley Knight, LGBT liaison for the sheriff’s department, also followed the couple.

“I told them if they want to smoke, do it before going upstairs,” Martin said. “And have a full belly.”

Martin said the couple could be held overnight, depending upon how backed up the magistrate was.

“They’re the nicest couple,” Martin said of Chandler and Jiminez. “They’re the first guys after any protest to come up and thank the officers.”

It was unclear at press time what charge would be filed against the couple. Last week, a sheriff’s spokesman indicated the pair likely would be charged with criminal trespass, a class-B misdemeanor. The penalty for that is up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.

Once in the license bureau on Thursday afternoon, Chandler and Jiminez filled out the paperwork. Chandler crossed out the word “bride” and wrote “not applicable.”

Before being called to the counter, the couple sat waiting next to a straight couple also applying for a license. Jiminez explained to them why they were there, and the couple wished them luck.

“God bless you,” Regina Johnson said to Jiminez and Chandler. “Good luck. You’re in our prayers.”

Clerk’s assistant Melinda Saavedra called Jiminez and Chandler and asked for their IDs. She checked to make sure one wasn’t there as a proxy.

“We pointed out subsection B that invalidates all marriages,” Chandler said. He was referring to the constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage in Texas. “She got teary-eyed when I said we love each other and want to get married.”

After being refused a license, the couple handcuffed themselves to each other and sat on the floor at the head of the line. Jiminez spoke on camera to TV news outlets explaining some of the more than 1,000 rights straight couples enjoy that are denied to gay and lesbian couples.

“This is about not being treated equal,” he said.

Jiminez said that the couple plans to get married on Sept. 13 and participate in Dallas’ gay Pride parade on Sept. 16.

He said their mothers and other family members would be attending their wedding and hoped they could stay to ride in a car in the parade with them.

The sign they plan to post on the car will read, “Just married, but not legal.”

Chandler said the idea for the protest came after the couple became engaged.

“He proposed the end of May,” Chandler said. “He made breakfast and I was eating pancakes and found a ring inside. He asked if I would be his husband.”

He said that the couple thought of going to another state to marry but decided there was no point if the marriage would just be void as soon as they got home.

“We spoke to our friend Daniel [Cates] with GetEQUAL, and he suggested we make a statement,” Chandler said. “And we decided it needed to be the day after Independence Day.”

At 4:30 p.m., the building was closed and everyone, including media, was instructed to leave.

The couple was not arrested until everyone else had left the office. When they came down the elevator, they were no longer handcuffed to each other but were handcuffed individually, each escorted by two sheriff’s deputies.

They were placed in separate squad cars and taken to Lew Sterrett for processing as their friends and supporters lined the sidewalk and applauded.

Martin Griffin came to the Records Building with his partner, Dillon Brown. He said they were doing this for every same-sex couple.

“We are all equal and should have the same rights,” Griffin said.

Activist Cd Kirven said, “This is the first time this has happened in Dallas. It’s historic.”

“You’re making history,” one friend shouted after the couple as the sheriff’s vehicles pulled away.

More photos and video below.

—  David Taffet