Behind bars, two lesbian prisoners tie the knot

The convicts in Canada marry, but spend their wedding night in separate cells.

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published January 8, 2007 10:49PM (EST)

Paging the New York Times "Vows" column: Here's a tear-jerker about finding love in the most unlikely place that's guaranteed to make the anti-gay fundies foam at the mouth. Two women serving time at the Edmonton Institution for Women in Edmonton, Canada, got married on Sunday night, according to the Associated Press.

Free from handcuffs, but under the watchful eye of guards, the two brides wore street clothes during the ceremony, which was performed by a minister. The Mrs. and Mrs. inmates' names were not released, but one is serving a 34-month sentence for breaking and entering, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault, while the other has been doing six years hard time for manslaughter, assault and assaulting a peace officer. The wedding night was reportedly chaste, since the prisoners must continue to sleep in separate cells. But both brides are scheduled to be released by the end of this year, on Nov. 18 and Dec. 6, respectively.

Not everyone involved in the wedding shed tears of joy. The Canadian prison guards' union opposed the match. "It's the value and ethics of getting married in jail while they're serving time together in the same institution," said Kevin Grabowsky, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. "It's not Club Fed, where you go and meet your spouse." He raised the concern that the union might cause security problems; for instance, if the couple had a "marital spat," or if one spouse had a dispute with a guard, the other might try to exact revenge. Talk about a killjoy. C'mon, Grabowsky, lighten up, it's a wedding! Also, haven't you ever heard the one about how love will find a way?

Gay marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, and the happy couple in Edmonton are not even the first same-sex couple in the country to marry while doing time. Two male inmates at Ontario's Bath Institution were married in November 2006.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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