Gay Marriage Activists Fined One Penny for Louisville Marriage License Protest

A protest in which a gay couple refused to leave a Louisville government building until they were granted a marriage license has resulted in a one-cent fine and no other punishment.

A jury found Reverend Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, and his partner Dominique James guilty of trespassing on Monday, and imposed a penny penalty on each of them. The charges stemmed from a January 2013 incident in which the two were arrested at the Louisville County Clerk’s office. After being denied a marriage license, they refused to leave the premises.

The jury deliberated for 90 minutes, at one point requesting a copy of the statute that covers trespassing. Later, they asked whether they could find the men guilty but impose no fine. District Judge Sheila Collins said a guilty verdict must be accompanied by a fine—as much as $250. 

Jurors returned the one cent fine for each men, which District Judge Collins discharged. She also ruled the brief jail time the defendants served would be sufficient to cover their court costs.

Blanchard said the verdict shows that jurors were sympathetic to their cause.

Even though we were found guilty, victory was there,” he explained. “We got the affirmation from the jury that they understood why we did what we did.”

“It’s hard to even put into words how we feel right now. It’s been a long journey.” 

Laura Ellis

Laura is the producer of Strange Fruit, a weekly talk show focusing on race and gender, and produces other news & feature programming.

@funambulator

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