Saturday, June 2, 2007

Only in California...

It must be a slow newsday in the world today. The NY Times just recently reported that gay California inmates will be allowed to have so-called "conjugal visits" just as their heterosexual counterparts.

Gay rights groups such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights in SFO called the decision a "great leap forward" in the movement for equality. These visits allow more than just partners of gay inmates to visit. Family members and children have often utilized this time to visit with their mothers and fathers who may be imprisoned.

The decision by the California comes after threats to sue over the policy which banned same-sex partners from visiting inmates because the government did not view them as family. Equality California says that there was just no reasonable justification for having the policy in place.

While gay rights advocates are happy about the change in policy there are indeed more important issues that the movement could focus on at this time. The perception about "conjugal visits" is one of moral depravity and impropriety. While some family members do visit inmates during these visits, it is highly associated and suggestive of sexual activity with an inmate's partner. Is this what the movement is concerned with? If the gay rights movement is to appear upstanding enough to earn the rights of marriage equality it must do it through means that also appear respectable and avoid getting caught in the wayside.

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