SPRINGFIELD — The new law legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois has state prison officials studying whether inmates will be allowed to exchange vows behind bars.

Days after Gov. Pat Quinn made Illinois the 16th state to allow gays to marry one another during a bill-signing event in Chicago, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections said a policy for prisoners had not yet been developed.

But, he said there would be a plan on the books by the time the law becomes official on June 1.

“The Illinois Department of Corrections will be prepared to implement a policy regarding this law when it goes into effect,” Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer said.

Illinois isn’t the first state to grapple with the issue.

In September, the California prison system ruled that inmates will be permitted to marry same-sex partners who are not incarcerated.

The policy in California bars marriages between two inmates because of “security concerns.”

Illinois already has a rule on the books prohibiting the marriage of two imprisoned persons.

But, under the state’s current rules, inmates can get married to non-prisoners. Arrangements for such marriages are at the discretion of each prison warden.

In Minnesota, where gay marriage also is legal, marriages between prison inmates are banned, but questions have arisen in facilities holding sex offenders.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported in September that it remains unclear how the state will handle people who have served their prison sentences, but remain in custody because they are sex offenders deemed to dangerous to be released into society.

According to the report, two men housed in facility for sex offenders contacted local officials for a license, but the state Department of Human Services denied their transportation request to apply in person, as required.

Illinois has a secure facility for sex offenders in Rushville. The “treatment and detention facility” – or, TDF – currently has no ban on marriage among residents.

But, Illinois Department of Human Services spokesman Tom Green said the matter is being studied with an eye on having a policy in place by June 1.

“We’ve reviewed some of the policies that TDFs use in other states,” Green said.

Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or 217-782-4043

(5) comments


OMG,I bet Jesus is rolling over in his tomb over this latest fiasco.

Hary P
Hary P

In his tomb? Uh oh, somebody slept in Sunday School. LOL!


Excellent catch, Har. I completely missed that.

Shame on you, earl. Better be sure to make your way to Sunday School next Easter. LOL

Texas Tea

So state officials are studying whether or not to allow inmates to marry? There is already a law on the books stating that inmates cannot marry each other so why is there a need to study this at all? The LAW is already there. Now if one of them gets out of prison and is no longer an inmate, then there you go, they are free to marry. Let's see how much more time and taxpayer dollars those so called "Officials" can waste on unnecessary studies.


How about we move along and solve the state pension problem, and nothing else, for now. By the time that happens, these lovers may be out of the mood for marital bliss.

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