A gay couple who refused to leave the Jefferson County, Kentucky, clerk’s office until they were granted a marriage license, was found guilty of trespassing, but they were fined a mere one cent in a message from the jury.
Defendants Dominique James, a Baptist minister and Maurice Blanchard, requested a marriage license and stayed past the office’s closing time in protest. A clerk who grants a marriage license to a same-sex couple can be removed from office and convicted of a crime under Kentucky law and the state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
The couple said they protested to bring attention to the issue of a member of his congregation not being allowed by a hospital to see his terminally ill partner.
“They said he wasn’t family,” Blanchard told the Courier-Journal.
The law is clear on what constitutes trespassing and the men did not dispute the facts presented by the prosecutor. The jury could have assessed a penalty of up to $250.
After deliberating, the jury asked Judge Sheila Collins if they could find the men guilty but refuse to impose a fine, but were told they had to assess a penalty if they found the couple guilty. They deliberated another 90 minutes before delivering a guilty verdict, along with a fine of one cent.
After the unexpected decision, Maurice posted to his Facebook page:
“I tell you what, more and more and more and more the words of Dr. King have rung true to me, especially after today’s ruling. THE TIME IS ALWAYS RIGHT TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT – MLK”