On Saturday murderers Mikhail Gallatinov, 40, and Marc Goodwin, 31, made history by becoming the first same-sex inmates to ever be married while in prison in the U.K., The Guardian reported.
The Marriage Act 1983 allowed prisoners to apply to be married, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.K. in March 2014 made it legal for inmates in the same prison to marry each other.
Goodwin was sentenced to life in 2007 for beating 57-year-old Malcolm Benfold to death in what was called a "gay-bashing spree."
He was given a minimum sentence of 18 years and it is projected he will serve another 10, The Guardian reported.
Gallatinov, who was already a convicted child molester, was imprisoned in 1997 at the age of 23 for the strangling death of Adrian Kaminsky, a 28-year-old he met on a gay hotline.
He was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years, which was upheld in 2009. He will be considered for parole next year.
The judge at his trial called the killing "cold-blooded, well planned, callous, chilling and apparently motiveless." He called Gallatinov "a dangerous young man [who] present[s] a considerable risk to the public in the future."
The jury took only an hour to convict him, and in-prison psychologists have labeled him "psychopathic," the Manchester Evening News reported.
The two supposedly met during their prison jobs as "bar staff" in Full Sutton Prison in Yorkshire, where they both still reside. They had reportedly been applying for a civil union for several years before same-sex marriage became legal in the U.K.
The wedding took place in the children's play alcove in the prison's visitors' center. The inmates exchanged vows, kissed, and cut a slice of cake with a small plastic knife, the Manchester Evening News reported.
The wedding was performed by two registrars and took place in front of several convict friends, a few relatives including Gallatinov's parents, four invited prison officers, and six on-duty officers.
The vows included the pair saying they were "soul partners" who would be "forever together."
"We are very clear that if prisoners do get married, the taxpayer does not foot the bill for the ceremony," a spokesperson for the Prison Service told The Independent, "and they are certainly not allowed to share a cell."
Gallatinov's parents told the Manchester Evening News that they are "proud of him being a small part of history.”
"If you find love you have to go for it — even if it is in prison. Everyone deserves to be happy," his father, Allen Abdulla, told the newspaper.
His mother, Christina WIlliams, agreed, and said her son was heartbroken when his last in-prison boyfriend was moved elsewhere and that she is "glad he's found love again."
The brother of Goodwin's victim thinks the union should not have been allowed, and suspects it of being a ploy to gain early release.
"How can you go out and kill a man for being gay and then have a gay wedding in prison? I can't see any logic in it," Tony Benfold told the Mirror. "It has crossed my mind that this could be a trick to get early release by showing they have built new lives."
Benfold believes that neither his brother's killer nor Gallatinov were given a severe enough sentence. He said it feels as if "they seem to get to do what they want in prison while my family are left to suffer."
In the U.S., same-sex inmates are legally allowed to marry in states that allow gay marriage, but there is no record of this ever taking place.
Married same-sex inmates in the same prison are also theoretically allowed to share a cell in the U.S., according to Slate. Yet the likelihood of this happening is small, as the prison could easily claim them sharing a cell poses "security risks." In the U.K. no claim is necessary to prevent the couple from co-habiting.
"Marriage is a human right for same-sex couples and even for people whose lives we may find reprehensible," Peter Tatchell, an ambassador for a U.K. penal reform association, told BuzzFeed News.
Tatchell believes that Gallatinov and Goodwin "committed horrific murders" but that the "aim of prison is to also reform and rehabilitate offenders. ... Being in love and married might help stabilize these men; giving them a focus away from a life of crime."
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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