Minnesota gay marriage law causes prisoner dilemmaThree same-sex couples in state custody as sex offenders are seeking marriage licenses under Minnesota's gay marriage law, causing new questions for state officials.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Three same-sex couples in state custody as sex offenders are seeking marriage licenses under Minnesota's gay marriage law, causing new questions for state officials.
No same-sex couples in the state's prison system have sought to marry so far, meaning the request from a handful in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program has not produced a clear answer, Minnesota Public Radio News reported Monday. The roughly 600 people in that program served prison sentences but remain in custody by judicial order.
Nicholas Luhmann and Thomas Bolter are both housed in the state's sex offender treatment center in Moose Lake. They recently contacted the Carlton County recorder to apply for a marriage license but were told that state law requires at least one applicant to appear in person. The couple requested transportation, but the state Department of Human Services denied it, citing a policy that no transportation is allowed for personal business.
Bolter told MPR News that he has kidney problems and that he wants Luhmann to be able to make medical decisions for him since he has no contact with his family. "I truly believe he has my best interests at heart," Bolter said of Luhmann.
Department policy does allow transportation for medical appointments and for trips to a local motor vehicle office. The agency says it's reviewing its policies in light of the new same-sex marriage law.
Attorney Dan Gustafson, who is involved with a class-action lawsuit that argues the sex offender program violates individuals' constitutional rights, said a new claim could be added if it becomes clear that some in the program have been denied marriage rights.
The Department of Corrections said no same-sex couples in custody have applied for licenses. John King, an assistant commissioner, said the department has a policy forbidding sex between inmates and said that marriages between inmates would jeopardize security.
But Chuck Samuelson, director of the ACLU of Minnesota, said he believed denying such a request would be illegal.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.