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Marriage Equality

Oklahoma Prisons Stop All Inmate Weddings to Prevent Gays from Marrying

Oklahoma Prisons Stop All Inmate Weddings to Prevent Gays from Marrying


Since gay couples can marry, Oklahoma prison officials now won't let anyone behind bars marry.

Oklahoma's Department of Corrections is putting a stop to any marriage between inmates, in an effort to avoid same-sex weddings behind bars.

Currently, all gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry in Oklahoma, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last October to not hear the state's appeal to maintain its ban. But now officials are stopping marriages for all prisoners, based on the belief that the Supreme Court could soon will require all 50 states to recognize marriage equality.

According to the ACLU, however, officials can't "hit the pause button on marriages performed in prison," since that's "completely at odds with what the state of Oklahoma is obligated to do."

Toby Jenkins with Oklahomans for Equality is calling the new policy unlawful. "People who are incarcerated in Okhahoma are still humans and still have certain rights, and they didn't surrender their right to love someone or have a legally recognized marriage," he told Tulsa news station KOKI-TV.

Until the marriage moratorium, the state prison system set aside two days per year for inmate weddings. Those are now on hold until the Supreme Court rules, or until the ACLU is able to pressure prison officials to undo their policy.

In the past, the state has granted a marriage license to such serial killers as Roger Dale Stafford.

Across America, antigay officials are exploring this unsettling new tactic to block LGBT couples from marrying: creating hurdles to marriage that apply to all couples, gay and straight alike.

When marriage equality first came to Alabama, numerous officials simply declined to issue marriage licenses to anyone, thereby avoiding having to deal with gay and lesbian couples.

Currently, Alabama's house of representatives is considering a bill approved by the state senate that would take the state out of the licensing business altogether. Couples will still be able to wed, but instead of obtaining a license from a probate judge, they would need to get the signature of a notary, attorney, or member of the clergy along with two witnesses to obtain a marriage contract.

Oklahoma legislators explored a similar measure that sought to remove the state's role in issuing marriage licenses to anyone earlier this year.

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Matt Baume