First female NBA referee Violet Palmer announces she is gay

Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Violet Palmer, who in 1997 became the first female to referee an NBA game, has announced that she is gay and is marrying her longtime partner, reports the Associated Press.

On Friday, Palmer will marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine in Los Angeles. The couple has been together for 20 years.

Palmer told the AP that she came out to her fellow NBA referees in 2007, several of whom will attend her wedding.

"This is actually the big formal coming out," Palmer said. "We are saying to the world, to everyone, here's my wife of 20 years. This is the big coming out."

Palmer refereed the 2014 NBA All-Star game in February, becoming the first female in any of the four major U.S. sports to officiate an All-Star game. 

She has also refereed for both the NCAA and WNBA. 

More: NBPA elects Michele Roberts as executive director

- Molly Geary

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