California does not permit proxy marriages, both parties must be present. Therefore male and female prisoners have not been allowed to marry each other. But what if both parties are in the same prison?
If prisoners in the same prison apply for permission to marry, the California proxy law doesn’t apply. State officials are scrambling to come up with a policy. They are concerned about security issues if two inmates marry: What about conjugal visits from one cell to another, and how will the rest of the prison population react?
Those problems will have to be worked out, gay rights activist Eduardo Morales says. He’s director of a nonprofit in San Francisco that provides support to gay and bisexual men. “According to the court, it’s a civil right for people of the same sex to marry. So given that, then the rights need to be extended to the prisoners as well,” Morales says. Ultimately, the question of inmate-to-inmate marriage may be decided in court, Morales says.
A number of national gay and lesbian organizations contacted say they won’t comment on the issue right now. There is a concern that any focus on the rights of prisoners to same-sex marriage could affect a November ballot initiative in California seeking to ban gay marriage altogether.
I’d say that’s a pretty valid concern.