Canadian lesbian inmates tie knot

Anthony Cuesta | January 09, 2007

MONTREAL — Two women inmates have tied the knot behind bars in Canada, marking the first same-sex marriage at Edmonton Institution for Women.

According to the Edmonton Sun, the two women – who haven't been named by corrections officials – were married Sunday night in a small ceremony.

"It's certainly a first for the Edmonton Institution for Women," said assistant warden Gary Sears to the Sun.

Two men were married at Ontario's Bath Institution in November 2006.

The ceremony was performed by a minister, and the women were married in their street clothes, Sears told the Sun.

The Sun reports that the inmates were allowed to complete the ceremony without handcuffs, but they remained under the watchful eye of prison guards the whole time, he said. Unfortunately for the happy couple, the wedding night was a lonely one. Prison policy prevents them from consummating the union, and they remain in separate cells.

Murray Billett, a prominent member of Edmonton's gay community, told the Associated Press that the union was "outstanding."

But Kevin Grabowsky, the Prairie region president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, told the AP that his union opposed the marriage.

"It's the value and ethics of getting married in jail while they're serving time together in the same institution," said Grabowsky to the AP. "It's not Club Fed, where you go and meet your spouse."

The AP reports that one of the inmates is serving a 34-month sentence for breaking and entering, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault, and is scheduled for release on Nov. 18, Sears said.

The second inmate, according to the AP, was jailed for six years for manslaughter, assault and assaulting a peace officer. She is scheduled for release on Dec. 6.

The Sun reports that that before the wedding ceremony was given the green light, Correctional Service Canada investigated the risk to staff, other inmates and visitors, he said.

Marriage licenses fall under provincial jurisdiction; CSC, being federal, has no say over who can get married.

EIFW is home to 117 prisoners. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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