Alex Blaze

Proposition 8 in California lacking support, gay prisoners to marry

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 29, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: California, Department of Corrections, field poll, gay marriage, marriage, marriage equality, polling, prison, prisoners, Rose Braz, same-sex marriage

Two stories out of California now about marriage in that state. The first is that Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in the California constitution, is down 40-54, according to . This is about the same as the Field Poll over a month ago that had it at 42-51.

The poll also found that white non-latinos and latinos oppose the measure at about the same level.

In other California marriage news, prisoners will soon be allowed to marry their same-sex partners:

The California Department of Corrections is preparing new guidelines for gay marriages in prisons in response to the court ruling that legalized gay marriage in California.

Under the new rules, gay inmates will have the same marriage rights as straight ones: They'll be able to marry non-inmates, but will be barred from marrying other inmates. With straight inmates, this rule has rarely had an immediate impact, given that male and female prisoners are housed in different facilities.

However, Corrections is maintaining the policy in single-sex institutions in order to prevent intimidation and harassment, according to department press secretary Seth Unger. Otherwise, Unger said, prisoners found out to have money or other assets might find themselves coerced into marriages with more powerful inmates, who then might try to lay claim to half of their net worth.

Consider this policy in conjunction with the Department's ban on condoms in prison. While apparently these folks are worried about prisoners being coerced into marriage, they don't care about people being coerced into unsafe sex.

Rose Braz, campaign director for the prisoner rights group Critical Resistance, said neither her group or any others she knew about was currently planning on suing over the policy. But she added that wasn't buying Corrections' explanation for the policy.

"Somebody might force Scott Peterson to marry them or something?" Braz said. "The Department of Corrections can come up with a myriad of reasons in their minds for passing this regulation. Very few of them have anything to do with reality. It's not based on a sound public policy but really on demonizing people in prison and denying them constitutional rights that have nothing to do with why they're in prison."

It's not the most needed prison reform right now, but if the Department of Corrections really wanted to reduce coercion and violence in their prisons, there are lots of other steps they could take.

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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | August 29, 2008 10:58 AM

Interesting post, Alex! I never thought about the implications for marriage in prisons.

As for the poll numbers on Prop 8, we can't afford to rest on our laurels. The measure's supporters have yet to blanket the California airways with their noxious propaganda.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 29, 2008 2:06 PM

I agree (from afar Indiana) with Brynn concerning not letting the guard down. Although she reportedly has gay friends (though firmly against marriage equality), the newly-named woman Republican VP candidate may well serve to energize the pro-amendment forces in California as part of the Republican base generally. It ain't over until the fat lady sings the vote tally in November.