Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Not in the Same Can

Nothing in Massachusetts marriage law forbids two homosexual prison inmates from wedding. The commonwealth Department of Correction can, and has, forbid it a few times already. It has allowed others.

According to the Boston Globe, it has a copy of the denial letter to Essie Billingslea and Bruce Hatt. It says that letting two men in the same prison marry presents "very serious security concerns...to the Massachusetts Treatment Center and the Department of Correction." This came with the signature of the Bridgewater Superintendent, Robert Murphy. Gov. Mitt Romney concurred.

The department split on the two other same-sex marriage requests it has received. In another involving two men in the same facility, it also denied the request. In one where a female inmate wanted to marry an unincarcerated woman, it permitted the union.

Murphy said that he thought the men in the recent case might be harassed or assaulted by other inmates if he permitted the marriage. He also said that he thought that the inmate who had previously said he was homosexual might have coerced the one who had not.

The Boston Herald quotes different sections of the letter, as well as referring to the men as "jailbirds turned lovebirds." It cites Murphy as writing, "Your record reflects that you have been found guilty of several disciplinary infractions including threats to another resident, encouraging a riot, and threatening a staff member." Department of Correction spokeswoman Kelly Natal, noted that the men could legally wed, but, the Herald reported "security concerns take precedence."

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