NEW YORK, N.Y. — Openly bisexual millionaire Charles Merrill (pictured) might be facing jail time for his decision to protest gay inequalities in the U.S. tax code.

Merrill — who lived in Hendersonville, N.C. for a few years this decade and originally hails from Southern Pines, N.C. — decided in 2004 to withhold his income taxes from the government as an act of civil disobedience. He is outraged that U.S. tax law penalizes same-sex couples for not being married while the federal government denies them the option to get married. He has not paid taxes in four years.

The Internal Revenue Service will go to trial against Merrill on Nov. 17 in the U.S. Tax Court in San Diego, Calif. Merrill currently lives in Palm Springs, Calif., and New York City. The maximum penalty for each year of his civil disobedience is three years in jail or a $25,000 fine.

Merrill, a cousin of the co-founder of Merrill Lynch, was married for 23 years to Evangeline Johnson, the only daughter of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson. Having been married and now having lived with his partner Kevin Boyle for 16 years, Merrill said he knows firsthand the inequalities that exist in the tax code and marriage laws relative to same-sex couples.

“Marriage between ‘gender neutral’ couples is legal in California, but our union is not recognized by the federal government and we don’t get the over 1,000 federal benefits automatically extended to heterosexual couples,” Merrill said in a press statement. “This inequality, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act, was voted on by congress and signed into law by President Clinton. What a can of worms that has turned out to be…

“The government has no business in checking out the gender of two people who want to be married,” the avowed atheist continued. “Presidential candidate John McCain was living in adultery with his present wife Cindy while still married to his former wife. According to the Bible, he should have been stoned to death for adultery.”

Because his same-sex relationship isn’t recognized and treated equally, Merrill dismissed the motto over the U.S. Supreme Court — “Equal Justice Under The Law” — as “meaningless.”

Q-Notes contacted Mark Hanson of the IRS’ Media Relations Office to discuss Merrill’s case. Hanson said he was not familiar with the situation. He added, “We’re not able to comment on any sort of ongoing matter like that.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.