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California Homosexual Prisoner Family Visits Policy Draws Fire

California’s newly adopted state prison policy permitting overnight conjugal visits for registered domestic partners who are in prison has been praised by homosexual advocacy groups but has drawn fire from religious conservatives.

Prison conjugal visiting began in 1918 in Mississippi as a privilege to motivate prisoners to work. Today, only five states permit overnight family visits: California, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Washington. But California is unique with its Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, which permits virtually “every legal right of marriage under California law to registered domestic partners,” according to Randy Thomasson, president of the conservative Campaign for Children and Families. The Act was passed during the pro gay-rights reign of former Democratic Governor Gray Davis, prior to his recall from office.

The new California prison policy devolved from the complaint of prisoner Vernon Foeller, an HIV-positive prisoner doing 18 months at the California Medical Facility state prison in Vacaville. Under threat of an equal protection suit from the ACLU, the prison capitulated and implemented the policy in June 2007. Prison regulatory changes are being prepared. Phil Magnan, director of Biblical Family Advocates, decried the policy as “tear[ing] down the fabric of godly marriage and recognizing domestic partners whose lifestyles are immoral.” ... “One can only pity the Corrections Department having to submit to such immoral laws,” he added.

Separately, in January 2008, San Francisco General Hospital reported that homosexuals in San Francisco are 13 times more likely than the rest of the city’s population to be infected with the latest drug-resistant mutation of the deadly flesh-eating bacterium, MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The new strain, called USA300, infects 170 out of every 100,000 residents of ZIP code 94114 (San Francisco’s largely gay Castro District), versus a zero rate in two-thirds of the rest of the city. MRSA, transmitted through contact with infected surfaces, is also widely present in prisons and jails. [As this issue of PLN goes to press, the California Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage.]

Source:, San Francisco Chronicle.

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