US: Three same-sex couples in Minnesota sex offender facility seek to marry

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Three same-sex couples currently confined to a high security Minnesota facility for sexual offenders are seeking to get married, following the introduction of equal marriage in the state last month.

The men all met while receiving treatment on the program at Moose Lake, a state custodial facility which is currently home to around 700 people, all but one of whom are men.

Nicholas Luhmann and Thomas Bolter are among the couples who have requested to marry. Speaking to MPR News, Bolter said: “I have medical issues going on with my kidneys. We want the security that if anything were to happen to me, that Nic would have the call on it, since I don’t have contact with my family. Nic would have the say of ‘pull the plug, keep the plug in.’ I truly believe he has my best interests at heart.”

Those on the program have served prison sentences for their crimes, but are committed indefinitely to state custody because county judges have ruled they are a “sexual psychopathic personality” and a danger to society.

Despite being incarcerated, inmates do have a number of freedoms not afforded to those in prisons.

Following the implementation of Minnesota’s equal marriage law on August 1st, the Department of Human Services has had to re-evaluate how it deals with relationships within the facility.

Clients in the program have previously married partners on the outside, but state law requires one member of a marrying couple to file the license application in person with the county recorder. Under current Department policy, the facility provides transportation for medical appointments but not for “personal business,” meaning the couples are unable to file the application.

Bolter told NNCNOW that: “We feel like this is a direct violation of our civil rights. We have the right to be transported to Carlton County and to get the license.”

When asked about the policy, Deputy Human Service Commissioner Anne Barry told the Star-Tribune: “We’re going to have to figure out how they get the application. We don’t intend to interfere in their right to marry each other.”

However, Barry added that: “Allowing clients what is their right to marry one another does not mean that clients are going to be room together.”

The Department of Human Services say it is currently reviewing its policies, including its transport policy, in light of the requests.