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What does federal recognition of same-sex marriage mean for prisoners?

Posted Feb 11, 2014 6:50 AM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Could a gay couple serving time at the same prison share a cell, following the Obama administration’s recent announcement that it would extend more federal legal recognition to same-sex couples?

Technically, yes, according to Slate, but such a scenario is unlikely. The living arrangement could been seen as a security risk, the article notes, and prisons traditionally have discretion to set policy in the interest of safety.

Two inmates in a federal prison can marry, according to the post, so long as the prison is in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

For couples with only one person in federal prison, the federal recognition now allows for visitation by a same-sex spouse. However, state-prison inmates and their spouses are subject to their state's rules. Slate notes that federal prisons prohibit conjugal visits; however the five states that allow conjugal visits also recognize same-sex marriage.

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