A gay couple who refused to leave a Kentucky county clerk’s office in protest against being refused a marriage licence, have been fined one cent after being convicted of trespassing.

The Reverend Bojangles Blanchard and Dominque James were charged with criminal trespassing, after being arrested for refusing to leave the Jefferson County Clerk’s office in January.

When the office was closing they refused to leave, and chose to be arrested, rather than being issued a ticket, out of a “spiritual obligation”, to do the right thing.

“If we don’t act, we are accomplices in our own discrimination,” the reverend said at the time. “We have to resist.”

On Tuesday all but admitted they had broken the law by refusing to leave the office.

After three hours of testimony during which their lawyers hailed them for their civil disobedience for standing up for what they believed in, and while the prosecution urged jurors to stick to the facts, the couple were convicted.

The reverend called the penalty a vindication of their pro-same-sex marriage protest, and said it showed that the jury understood what they were standing up for.

The couple had rejected a plea deal which would have removed the charges in exchange for five hours charity work, because they said they felt they had done nothing wrong.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the couple said it may have been the smallest ever fine in a criminal trial in Kentucky.