Violet Palmer, who became the NBA's first female official in 1997, has announced she is gay and will marry her partner of 20 years this Friday. From Dan Gelston of the Associated Press:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Palmer says she came out to her fellow NBA referees in 2007. She has not tried to keep her sexuality a secret from the league since that time.

"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 will marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be officiated by "Basketball Wives LA" star Tanya Young Williams, the ex-wife of former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams.

It's another barrier coming down in sports. I know talking with officials in sports at various levels there is a real fear of coming out because of the potential for opportunities to be taken away. Thankfully for Palmer and for the rest of the officials out there living in the closet, there is no threat there at this point in her career and she can help tear down more walls around sports.