For the first time that anyone could remember, two people were arrested in Dallas demonstrating for LGBT equality. After Mark “Major” Jiminez proposed to Beau Chandler, the couple decided they wanted to get married. But they didn’t want to go out of state, like many of their friends had.
They wanted to get married surrounded by all of their friends right here in Dallas.
So the day after Independence Day, the couple did what lots of other couples did that day. They went to the Dallas County Records Building to apply for a marriage license. And while heterosexual couples had their documents issued, Chandler and Jiminez were turned down.
A marriage bureau clerk called the couple into a private room. As required, she asked whether one of the men was applying as a proxy. The couple replied that they were not. She told them that Texas law did not allow her to issue the license.
When Chandler said, “But we love each other,” she, along with other onlookers, burst into tears.
Rather than leaving the Records Building, the couple staged a protest. They handcuffed themselves to the stanchion at the front of the line. Each time a clerk asked who was next in line, Jiminez said he was.
Deputies routed the line around the couple but allowed them to stage their protest all day.
At closing time, everyone was told to leave the building. When Chandler and Jiminez refused, they were arrested for trespassing.
A group of supporters protested in front of Lew Sterrett Justice Center until the couple was released on bond about midnight.
After the couple’s first hearings in August, supporters marched to the Records Building for a second demonstration.
That afternoon, four same-sex couples, including Jiminez and Chandler, applied for marriage licenses and were all denied. While the group filling the license office was even larger than at the first demonstration, only Jiminez refused to leave at the end of the business day and was arrested for a second time.
Chandler left the building with the other demonstrators. He had been warned by his employer not to get into anymore legal trouble, but was fired a few weeks later anyway.
In September, the couple married without legal sanction at a friend’s house near Bachman Lake followed by a reception at the Dallas Eagle.
Attorneys planned a defense emphasizing marriage equality while assuming the district attorney would emphasize the arrest was for trespassing despite the circumstances of the protest.
In a November court appearance, Chandler’s attorneys told the district attorney’s office that he would accept only a complete dismissal. He was offered dismissal after completing 40 hours of community service at any Dallas non-profit organization. Chandler accepted that deal and was spending his time working with non-profit LGBT groups.
Jiminez’s cases are still pending, with no court date set.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 28, 2012.
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