The "Queer Rising 5" are facing a judge for the fourth time on their arrest for a protest on marriage equality.
While New York State now is listed as one of the few states in America that allow same-sex couples state marriage rights, members of Queer Rising, the New York direct action protest group, who helped keep the pressure on elected officials during the fight, are now facing trial by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
The defendants in the pending case, Kevin Donohue, Melissa Kleckner, Ali Lozano, Robert Moore and Natasha Dillon, are being represented by civil rights attorney Ted Bohn. Mr. Bohn has issued a statement noting that the office of prosecutor Cyrus Vance is going far beyond the usual measures for protesters.
"The continued prosecution of these five people defies explanation. They spent the night in jail - that should be the end of it. I've seen judges dismiss charges in the interest of justice where the defendant was charged with violent behavior. I would think Mr. Vance's office would have better things to do."
This brings to mind the "vindictive prosecution" defense permitted in the similar case of Lt. Dan Choi before the D.C. courts. While lesser known than Lt. Choi, the Queer Rising defendants are no less entitled to fair treatment in the courts.
Rob Lassegue, a gay man married on July 24, 2011, was quoted in a Queer Rising press release as being thankful for the organization's support.
"Queer Rising's consistent pressure on the powers that be is arguably one of the top reasons that marriage equality passed in the New York State Senate this time. My partner and I are grateful for the Queer Rising member's sacrifices and ask that the Manhattan DA's office dismiss all charges."
It's probably true that all of the money and resources poured into the state, and the Governor's support were the top reasons, but since the arrest here was for Queer Rising's protest in front of the Governor's office, which you can view here, I think it's fair to say that the argument can be made that Queer Rising helped Governor Cuomo think about what the right thing was to do in this situation.
If charges are not dismissed on Friday, the group will be potentially going to trial. Queer Rising asks for public support this Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:30am in Courtroom Part A, 100 Centre Street, New York, NY.