Gay and lesbian
inmates in California prisons will have equal access to
conjugal visits from their registered domestic partners, the
state agency said last week after prodding from the
American Civil Liberties Union.
followed an application last year from convicted burglar
Vernon Foeller, 40, of Sacramento, whose partner contacted
the ACLU after being denied a family visit to the
state's Vacaville facility.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ultimately
allowed the couple an overnight family visit a week
before Christmas. On Wednesday, the agency held a
public hearing toward bringing its regulations in line
with California's domestic-partner law.
Foeller, who was
serving a 20-month term, was released last month and
testified at the hearing.
"I heard from a
lot of people inside the prison who thought it was a
step forward," he told Gay.com on Monday. "People who are
doing life terms, or even seven to life, can't get
family visits, and they saw what I was doing as a step
to roll that back."
testimony to the prison board, Foeller's partner of nearly
seven years said the family visits were especially important
because "the attitudes of other inmates, visitors, and
staff" made him feel uncomfortable in the regular
The change will
affect all gay men and lesbians among California's more
than 170,000 incarcerated residents, ACLU staff attorney
Alex Cleghorn said in the statement.
meanwhile, is getting back to work as a DJ and remix
engineer. He, his partner, and Cleghorn all plan to
march with the ACLU's float this year in San
Francisco's pride parade. (Barbara Wilcox, The