Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James, a gay couple living in Kentucky, were found guilty of trespassing after refusing to leave the Jefferson County clerk’s office when denied a marriage license. Now the violation will hit them heavy in the pockets. According to the Associated Press on November 26, a jury decided to fine the couple just one cent.
The couple admitted that they knew they broke the law by staying in the clerk’s office after closing time, but say they felt obligated and “spiritually” motivated to make their voices known.
“If you are called by God to do something, you do it,” Blanchard said.
Kentucky’s marriage amendment currently defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and will only be recognized as such so Blanchard and James were making a stand just by requesting the marriage license because Kentucky law also states that any clerk that issues a license “to persons prohibited from marrying shall be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor and removed from the office.”
There was no doubt that both Blanchard and James were guilty of trespassing, but the one cent fine showed the couple that the jury had compassion for them. Blanchard called the penalty a vindication of their protest, which in his opinion, was no punishment at all.
“It shows they understood what we were doing,” he said after jurors returned their verdict.
The jury actually wanted to impose no fine with the conviction, but the judge said they had to fine the couple something as the law had to be followed. The maximum penalty in such a case is $250.