Gay inmates in California can get married (but the prison chaplain can refuse to marry the couple on religious grounds)
- State prison officials released a memo stating they ‘must accept’ applications following Supreme Court ruling
- Last month a judge rejected a five-year appeal to bring back ban on same-sex marriage
- Inmates will not be able to marry each other
By MIA DE GRAAF
PUBLISHED: 15:04 GMT, 9 September 2013 | UPDATED: 18:02 GMT, 9 September 2013
Gay inmates in California can now marry their partners, a memo has revealed.
The landmark decision, announced on 30 August, follows a Supreme Court rejection of Proposition 8 – which would ban gay marriage.
Prison officials announced they ‘must accept and process applications for a same-sex marriage between an inmate and a non-incarcerated person in the community, in the same manner as they do between opposite sex couples’.
Voters approved Proposition 8 in 2008.
In 2010, a federal judge found the law unconstitutional – but the bill’s supporters, ProtectMarriage, appealed the ruling.
On 14 August this year the case was finally rejected and closed.
And as of Friday, prisoners convicted of any crime will be able to apply to the state for a marriage licence.
Complying with laws for free citizens, any chaplain can refuse to marry a couple on religious grounds.
Unlike British prisoners, Californian convicts will not be able to wed each other.
Since 18 March 2012 killers, rapists, drug dealers and terrorists in the UK have been allowed to get hitched inside prison was given after one man’s mum wrote to inmate magazine Inside Time to get the go-ahead.
‘My son is currently held as a Category A prisoner and has expressed a wish to “marry” (in a civil ceremony) another male Category A prisoner who is in the same jail,’ the concerned woman wrote.
‘I would like to know whether he would ever get permission for this and, if so, how quickly would he be able to arrange it from the prison? Are same sex civil ceremonies allowed in prison, particularly from Category A prisoners?’
Category A covers the most notorious and violent inmates in the UK, including everyone from killers to terrorists. They are detained in the country’s toughest jails – such as Belmarsh in London – under the strictest security conditions as they are highly dangerous to the public.
In July, two Parisian prisoners became the first couple to take advantage of the law when it passed in France.
Serial killer Alfredo Stranieri and Germain Gaiffe – who beheaded a man – married inside the high-security prison at Poissy, just outside the capital.
Gaiffe, 45, wore a white wedding dress but was ordered to change into men’s clothing. Guests included terrorist Carlos the Jackal after the couple asked him to be their witness.
The rest of the United States does not look poised to follow suit, with gay marriage illegal for 70 per cent of its citizens.
In Indiana, gay people applying for marriage outside prison can be given up to three years in jail.