Main | Saturday, April 23, 2011

NEW YORK: State Prison System To Grant Conjugal Visits For Married Gay Inmates

The New York state Department of Corrections announced yesterday that gay inmates who are legally married or in civil union partnerships will be granted conjugal visits with their spouses. Fewer than one-third of New York's 67 prisons allow such visits for anyone and gay inmates applying for a visit must be housed in one of those facilities.
Cutler said the regulation, which appeared in the state Register this week, formalizes a policy change initiated in 2008 by then-Gov. David Paterson, who ordered New York State agencies to recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed in other states and civil unions. Cutler could not explain why it took so long for the regulation to be finalized in the Register, which lists recent rule-making activities by state agencies. Cutler was unaware of any inmate in a same-sex relationship who has had a conjugal visit, known officially as family reunions. About 20 of the state's 67 correctional facilities allow conjugal visits. Gay marriage advocates welcomed the move, saying any recognition of same-sex relationships is a positive step - even when it occurs in the prisons. "The more the state is consistent with that status of law the better off we are," said Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
The new regulations also allow gay inmates to be temporarily furloughed if their spouse is terminally ill.

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