I know I’m all kinds of late with this, but gimme a break. I’ve just cleared out “starred” items — stuff I wanted to read and/or blog about — going back to mid-June. I just gave up on most of them. But this I couldn’t quite let go.
There’s an irony to this happening in Virginia, famous as the state that launched the Loving v. Virginia case. I missed blogging about the gay couple who got a license and got married before the state figured it out.
The couple walked into a Norfolk, Va., courthouse on a spring day, exchanged a few words, and within 10 minutes, were seemingly husband and wife.
It was an unremarkable ceremony — except that several weeks later, officials realized the shapely bride might not have been a woman.
Now authorities in Virginia, where same-sex marriages are illegal, are weighing whether to file misdemeanor charges against the couple, Antonio E. Blount, 31, and Justin L. McCain, 18. An announcement is expected this week.
A prosecutor says the decision to press charges could turn on whether the pair knowingly misled officials when they applied for a license and later, traveled to a courthouse for a ceremony. If the bride was transgender, and identified as a woman, it is unclear whether the marriage would be considered illegal.
The pair went to Newport News Circuit Court on March 24 to obtain a marriage license — McCain appearing as a woman and saying the name “Justine” before a deputy, said Newport News Circuit Court clerk Rex Davis.
McCain produced a Virginia driver’s license, but a design quirk — the ‘m’ or ‘f’ for male or female appears directly against a darkened state seal — meant nobody noticed McCain’s gender, Davis said.
Authorities were considering whether to press charges? That’s interesting
One of the most often heard refrains during the wave of anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives and state constitutional amendments a few years ago went something like this: “Nobody’s banning gay marriage. You can’t ban it because it’s not legal in the first place. This is just defining marriage as between man and a woman.” The other favorite tactic was to point out that “no one’s being locked up for getting married.”
Well. Not yet. And not this time, fortunately, since Virginia won’t prosecute these men.
A couple who obtained a Virginia marriage license and had a ceremony before authorities realized both were biological men will not face charges, officials said Monday.
Antonio E. Blount, 31, and Justin L. McCain, 18, faced misdemeanor false information charges, punishable by a fine up to $250.
Authorities said the couple applied for a license in Newport News Circuit Court in March and passed off McCain as “Justine.” Officials realized later that McCain was actually born a man in North Carolina.
Court clerk Rex Davis sought an investigation because same-sex marriage is illegal in Virginia.
The case turned on whether the pair knowingly committed a fraud, something prosecutors couldn’t determine, according to a letter Davis received Monday from Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard E. Gwynn.
“We don’t have the ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt there was an intent to deceive,” said Jack Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Gwynn.
Fitzpatrick said Virginia law does not clearly define “bride” and “groom,” which at the time were the only spaces on the marriage license application the couple filled out. The forms have since been changed to specify “male applicant” and “female applicant.”
“Now that the forms have been changed, that is a crime and should someone do that again, they will be prosecuted,” Fitzpatrick said.
I’m just wondering if it’s too far-fetched to suggest that we’re probably not too far from the day when someone — a gay couple who gets married, or the person who officiates — does get arrested and locked up. What happens then?