Something is up in the great state of Texas, where nothing is in the middle of the road, except a yellow stripe and a dead armadillo.
Gay couple Mark “Major” Jiminez and Beau Chandler of Dallas, Texas applied for a marriage license yesterday afternoon at the Dallas County Clerk’s office marriage bureau, and when refused, engaged in an act of civil disobedience by sitting down on the floor, refusing to leave. They promptly handcuffed themselves to one another and held hands, before they were arrested and taken to jail by Dallas county police. After posting a $500 bond each, they were released last night to freedom and the cheers of Texas LGBT activists.
Jiminez and Chandler have been charged with criminal trespass and could face up to a maximum $2,000 fine and 181 days in jail. They have been scheduled to appear in a Dallas court on August 3.
Jiminez issued a statement early this morning after a late night, reflecting on possible jail time and the penalties he faces for engaging in an conscious act of civil disobedience because marriage equality is not legal in the state of Texas.
“We are each now facing a $2000 fine and a jail sentence of 180 days,” said Jiminez, a bartender at a Dallas gay bar. “But I stand before each and every one of you and tell you that I would spend 181 days in jail as a 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 had recently become engaged to Chandler in May, who is a nurse at a local hospital.
“The day after we celebrated our country’s freedom, Mark and Beau stood in courage for their freedom to marry only to be arrested,” Michael Divesti, a leader of GetEQUAL Texas, who provided support to the couple, told The New Civil Rights Movement. “Shame on our government for putting them through this.”
Major Jiminez approached Divesti recently to discuss the couple’s desire to marry, but knowing that it was not legally permitted in Texas, wanted to take a stand against marriage inequality. According to Divesti, Jiminez has been an activist over the course of many years, even having organized with Harvey Milk in San Francisco.
“I wanted to know if Major was the real deal, ” Divesti added. “Major was very convincing that this was something they both really wanted to do and make a statement on behalf of the our community.”
GetEQUAL Texas, led by Daniel Cates, organizer and strategist in Dallas, helped raise bail money for the couple and provided on site support during the arrest and afterwards while the couple remained in jail. The Jiminez action went viral on Facebook last night, Divesti indicated that nearly 1,00o new likes hit their Facebook page.
There is no doubt that the LGBT community and its allies have become mesmerized by the actions of Major and Beau.
Last night, Major and Beau Jiminez, issued the following statement on Facebook after making bail:
Freedom. I don’t even know where to begin…. from everyone that was there when we got arrested, to our friends and liasons within the Dallas City Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff’s department, to the brave men and women who stood outside of Lew Sterrett Jail with signs in our support waiting for our release, and were prepared to stand out there all night, to the sympathetic police officer Beau made friends with who personally took us out of holding and made our release happen about 2-3 hours faster than it would have been. Y’all are all amazing. Our bond was set at $500.00 each and when we walked out of jail after posting our bond, we were greeted with money to help defray the cost that was just collected in the past couple of hours. I see that I have 400 emails to go through, and I will read every one. Last but not least, I would like to than the local, state and national organizers from GetEqual Texas who have stood beside us through this entire event. Of course, it is not over. We have to appear in court August 2 at 8:30am. And of course, I will keep you all posted. We love all of you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are humbled and moved.
One thing is for sure, there is one more dead armadillo out on a Texas highway today, because of the courageous actions of Major Jiminez and Beau Chandler. Not only did the state of Texas learn about the love of these gay men, but the whole country has tuned in too. For further information about the Jiminez Chandler case visit the GetEQUAL Texas website, where they kill LGBT social inequality “armadillos” on a daily basis.
Editor’s note: Tanya Domi is Chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL.
Images of Mark Major Jiminez and Beau Chandler were provided by GetEQUAL Texas.
Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
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