Kentucky Gay Couple Fined One Penny for Civil Disobedience

A Kentucky gay couple, who were arrested for staying in a Jefferson County clerk’s office past closing time to protest the office’s denial of a marriage license to them, had their trial end with a trespassing conviction and a fine of 1 cent. What makes this a notable event is the effect that the men’s story seemed to have on the jurors. From courier-journal.com:

After three hours of testimony in which their lawyers hailed them for their civil disobedience, while the prosecution urged jurors to stick to the facts, Blanchard and James were convicted Tuesday of trespassing — but fined only a penny.

Blanchard called the penalty a vindication of their protest in support of same-sex marriage.

“It shows they understood what we were doing,” he said after jurors returned their verdict following 90 minutes of deliberations.

[snip]

The jury sent a note to Judge Sheila Collins asking if they could convict the defendants and impose no fine, but she told them they had to fine the defendants something.

This is a demonstration of how telling our story can affect moving the ball of equality forward. Though the men, technically, broke the law by their protest, the protest was one of civil disobedience. It was a way of telling our story through actions. It was letting people know that our equality, our relationships and our rights are something worth being arrested and tried for. That makes a pretty powerful statement about our commitment to each other. That story of dedication for the one you love is something to which everyone can relate. That is what helps us change hearts and minds.

It’s also worth noting that the article states that the arresting officer shook the men’s hands before taking them into custody.

Read the full article

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