In commemoration of Independence Day, a Texas couple went to the Dallas County Records Building today, July 5 (since the office is closed on Independence Day) to request a marriage license for their planned wedding on September 13th. They left the county records building in handcuffs after refusing to leave when their application for a marriage license was denied. The couple will now likely be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for criminal trespass.
The county refused to grant the marriage license because both applicants, Beau Chandler and Mark Jiminez, are men.
The protest has been planned for a while now and was announced earlier this week in the Dallas Voice, the local LGBT weekly. The action was coordinated by GetEQUAL Texas, who has already raised money for the men's bail and an attorney to represent the two. Texas law prohibits the issuance of a marriage license to persons of the same sex; however, the Texas Constitution actually goes so far, in a plain text reading, as to ban all marriages in the state since a 2005 amendment passed with 75% of the vote of Texas voters stipulates the state "man not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage." Note, it does not say "any other legal status." Marriage, as defined by Texas Family Code, is a legal status that is at the very least similar if not identical to marriage as defined by the amendment to the Texas Constitution and is thus banned by the amendment.
The text of Texas' anti-marriage amendment was drafted by a state representative that does not have a college education and the offending clause was rejected by the committee that reviewed the amendment only to be added back to the amendment on the State House floor. As one might expect, this odious legislator is a right wing religious fanatic and was dubbed by the late Molly Ivins as The Bible Thumping Dwarf From Pampa. He is also President of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
This is the first time any LGBT activists have been arrested in Dallas County for protesting, though it is not the first time same sex couples have requested marriage licenses from the Dallas County Clerk. Similar protests were held this past Valentine's Day in Dallas, Harris, Travis, Bexar, Tarrant and other counties. In the previous Dallas County protest, the couples freely left the clerk's office upon being denied. A lesbian couple in Travis County was arrested during the Valentine's Day protest for refusing to leave the courthouse after being denied.
It is worth noting that the Travis County Clerk, Dana DeBeauvoir is in favor of marriage equality, but had to refuse the license by law. In Dallas County, the two men today were arrested by the County's sheriff's deputies. Dallas County's elected sheriff is a Latina lesbian.
These arrests could be the first step in a lawsuit in the Lone Star State to achieve marriage equality for all citizens of Texas, or at the very least get Texas' very poorly worded and highly unconstitutional anti-marriage amendment struck down. <heavy snark>After all, we wouldn't want any liberal Commie-pinko socialist activist judges making law from the bench by inserting the word "other" in between "any" and "legal status" in the amendment's text. The good Christian, conservative, strict constructionist judges of this state will adhere to the law properly and strike down all marriages in Texas like they are supposed to. </snark>