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Gay Kansas Inmate’s Husband Not Planning to Visit

Monday Dec 30, 2013

The husband of an imprisoned Kansas man inmate said he isn't interested in visiting his spouse, who has complained that the state is discriminating against them because they are gay by prohibiting the visits.

Christopher Yates is serving seven years at the Norton Correctional Facility for crimes related to embezzlement. He said the state is treating him differently by refusing to allow visits from his husband, whom he married legally in Iowa.

However, Yates' husband, Steve Yates, told The Topeka Capital-Journal ( ) that he has no desire to visit the prison. He said he plans to end the marriage, perhaps by getting an annulment.

"It's just better that I not have contact with Christopher," Steve Yates said. "Things are moving ahead smoothly for me."

The state said it banned the visits because Steve Yates is a co-defendant in some of Christopher Yates' crimes. Christopher Yates, was convicted in March 2012 in Ford County on charges of identity theft, theft of $100,000 or greater, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal use of a financial card, computer crime and perjury. Steve Yates was a co-defendant and sentenced to probation for his role in the crimes.

Prison officials said the men's sexual orientation had no bearing on the decision.

Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights organization, said Christopher Yates had little recourse for pursuing his situation, noting that prison wardens are given broad discretion over visitation and other policies.

However, Upton said the situation could be part of a wider discussion about same-sex marriage between states that allow it and those that don't. Kansas is one of 32 states in which gay marriage is illegal.

Christopher Yates, in a second letter to The Capital-Journal dated Nov. 5, said he would like to discuss his husband's visitation rights with gay rights groups. Steve Yates said he doesn't mind if the issue is discussed as part of the conversation about gay couples' rights and benefits, but he doesn't want to participate.

"I'm doing a complete rebuild of my life," Steve Yates said. "I need to make a clean break."

Christopher Yates suggested in earlier letters to the paper that separation from his husband was taking a toll "not only on my mental and emotional well-being, but (on) my already fragile marriage."

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