A federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled that a long-term gay couple on probation has the same right to associate as a married couple.
Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz issued the ruling in a case involving two Montgomery County men, Daniel Mangini and Steven Roberts, who were convicted in 2004 of dealing 100 grams of methamphetamine.
After their release from federal prison, the U.S. Probation Office declined to allow them to live together, citing a policy that forbids felons on probation from associating with other felons unless they are blood relatives or spouses.
Under the probation department rules, they were not permitted to speak, meet or e-mail during their five-year period of supervised release.
Before their arrests, Mangini and Roberts had lived together for 18 years, shared bank accounts, and helped raise a young girl.
"Defendants were in every way a family," Katz wrote in a 10-page opinion issued Tuesday. "The Due Process Clause [of the Constitution] protects highly personal relationships of deep attachment and commitment."
Amazingly, this case is establishing an extremely important precedent. Judge Katz is affirming the equal rights of same-sex couples. The ACLU press release describes the historic impact of this decision:
After acknowledging the long-term commitment that the couple has made to each other and noting the great strides both have made in their recovery, Judge Katz ruled today that the couple can no longer be barred from having contact with each other. Relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, Judge Katz ruled that same-sex couples have the same right to form intimate relationships as opposite sex couples and that it is unconstitutional to treat same-sex couples differently.In many ways, this was obviously a terrible ordeal for Mangini and Roberts. Thankfully, both men are now sober, moving forward with their life together.
"This is truly a great day for our clients who have been barred from having any contact with each other for more than a year," said Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "By honoring their commitment to each other and fighting to be together, Dan and Steven have helped to bring about ground-breaking law requiring equal treatment for same-sex couples."
I guess in this case, as far as the GLBT community is concerned, crime pays.
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