Solemnizing Marriages

I’ve written about solemnizing marriages before in the Dickinsonian (the college newspaper I wrote for when I was still in college*). I recommend reading the piece, not because I’m shamefully self-promoting, but because it addresses the issue in MN and PA rather well. It’s also much more polished than my typical blog posts.

The issue is that in many states, only religious leaders and certain people with civic authority are allowed to solemnize a marriage, which means secular celebrants or similar individuals cannot solemnize marriages. In some states, only those authorized to solemnize a marriage can preside over ceremonies. In other states, two ceremonies may be required if the first ceremony is performed by someone not authorized to solemnize.

Much to my surprise, today when I opened up the Morning Heresy I discovered this issue of solemnizing marriages had been brought up by the CFI and the ACLU in Indiana. It’s rather exciting, and I hope that some sort of legal precedent can be set by this case (if Indiana loses, that is). The Morning Heresy provided the following links: a press release from the CFI, a WIBC article, an Indy Star article, and an Indy Channel article.

*It’s still weird to not be in college anymore.

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One thought on “Solemnizing Marriages

  1. irritually says:

    More attention is needed to this issue and to marriage law in general. In your linked piece at the Dickinsonian you write: “I am not suggesting that we disallow religious leaders from solemnizing the ceremony because allowing them to solemnize in no way violates the separation of church and state.” Are we sure it doesn’t? I’m not saying that the present Supreme Court (or any prior court) would ever rule that it is a violation, but I’m unclear on how granting a religious official this power, by virtue of being a religious official I might add, does not get us into murky First Amendment waters. Sure enough one could claim that as long as all religions are treated equally there isn’t a problem, but taken to its logical extreme this means that to be treated equally one has to have a religion in the first place. I would argue that “religion” as a broad category should not be established either, which our conventions to date do in practice. I’ve written more about it here –

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