Violet Palmer: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Violet Palmer: Learning through SportsPalmer considers the invaluable skills she's gained playing sports that translate into all aspects of life. Violet Palmer broke a major glass ceiling in sports in 1997 when she became the first woman to officiate in the NBA, as well as the first female official in any major U.S. professional sport. While her entrance into…2012-06-21T15:26:49.000Z

NBA referee Violet Palmer publicly came out in announcing her marriage to her girlfriend of 20 years, Tanya Stine. Watch the video above to see an interview with Palmer.

Here’s what you need to know about her:

1. She Was the First Woman Referee in the NBA

tanya stine


In 1997, Palmer became the first woman referee to ref in not just the NBA, but in the highest tier of a sport. Palmer played basketball originally at Cal Poly Ponoma where she played point guard on the 1985 and 1986 NCAA Division II team.

The first NBA game she ever officiated was between the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks in 1997. In 2006, she became the first woman referee to officiate an NBA playoff game which took place between the Nets and Pacers.

USA Today said:

Under scrutiny from her first tipoff, Palmer instantly proved she could withstand the grumbling and ref baiting that comes with forging a career in a men’s game. She was no publicity gimmick and has since officiated postseason games and the 2014 All-Star Game over a lengthy and varied career that included stints at the NCAA level and WNBA.

2. She is Gay and Didn’t Try to Hide It

violet palmer


Palmer said she knew that she was gay as early as middle school, but didn’t tell her parents until she was an adult.

After she was hired to become and official she didn’t immediately reveal her sexuality, but if someone asked she would tell them her sexual preference for women. For years, Palmer never really talked about it, not because she was ashamed but because she didn’t want it to distract the public from what she was there to do- officiate games.

Palmer wanted to be recognized for her passion and talent as an NBA officiate, not for her sexual orientation. She also mentioned she initially did not want to tel lthe NBA before she got hired in fear that they would reject her application. Since she never openly went around telling people at work, she is considering her marriage proposal as her “coming out.”

She told the Associated Press:

I always wanted people to just look at my work. Not look at my personal life, not look at my sexual preference. That doesn’t matter. I just wanted people to say, ‘Wow, she is a pretty damn good referee.'”

If someone asked me, I would tell them, but am I going around with the gay flag posted on my forehead? I didn’t feel like it was necessary. But I never hid it.

3. She is Marrying Her Partner of 20 Years, Tanya Stine

After 20 years of having a domestic partnership, Palmer and Tanya Stine decided to get married. What triggered the decision to get married was California’s legalization of gay marriage. The couple is planning to have a wedding with 130 guests consisting of friends, family and coworkers.

Palmer said in an interview:

It’s a different feeling. This is one of kind of making my life and family complete. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great career and strive for something that’s never been done and was able to do it. They’re both exciting and it adds another component to my life that probably half the world doesn’t even know.”

4. Stine Has 3 Children from a Previous Marriage

Palmer and Stine will be married in Los Angeles on August 2, 2014 by Tanya Young Williams, a friend of Stine’s. Stine knows Williams who is the wife of former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams and starred on “Basketball Wives LA” because Stine is a prominent hairstylist out in Los Angeles.

Stine has been married before to a man and has 3 children from the marriage whom Stine and Palmer live with.

Click here to check out their wedding website.

5. She Lives in Los Angeles

Palmer grew up in a neighborhood nearby Serena and Venus Williams in Compton, California. She has been living with Stine for awhile now and Stine’s 3 children in Los Angeles where they plan to spend their life together.

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