Ceremony, officiant no longer required under new law
WND Staff August 31, 2019
The ripples from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision creating same-sex marriage – a ruling the chief justice said was unrelated to the Constitution – continue to be felt.
One of the biggest impacts has been the prosecution of Christian florists, photographers and cake bakers who decline to promote same-sex marriage because of their religious beliefs.
Alabama lawmakers apparently have had enough.
A law went into effect Friday that eliminates the state’s role in approving marriages, making it largely a record-keeper.
AL.com reported the law makes obtaining a marriage license as simple as filling out a state form and returning it.
No ceremony or signature by an officiant, such as a minister or judge, is required. Applicants simply put their names on the form, have it notarized and return it.
At the Tenth Amendment Center blog, Mike Maharrey said that while the change in the law “may seem like semantics, it is quite significant.”
“It ends the requirement to get state permission before getting married. The state will now record signed contracts between consenting individuals. In effect, it removes the state from the approval process and relegates it to a mere record-keeper,” he said.
He pointed out the law will maintain a few state requirements governing marriage.
“Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 still must obtain parental permission before applying to record a marriage, the state will not record a marriage if either party was already married, and the parties cannot be related by blood or adoption as already stipulated in state law.”
But civil or religious ceremonies will no longer be required.
Maharrey said the law is “a step toward returning to the traditional Western custom in which the state had little to no involvement in marriage, even though it was a legal contract as well as a religious institution.”
“Marriage in medieval Europe technically fell under the legal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, with priests officiating weddings at the door of the community church,” he noted. “However, it was ultimately a private arrangement that did not require a third party in order to be considered legitimate.”
He noted the state’s role in defining and regulating marriage “has become a contentious issue and places a burden on government officials torn between the legal requirements of their jobs and their personal religious convictions.”
“By limiting the state’s role in marriage, the legislation will allow Alabamans to structure their personal relationships as they see fit without interference or approval from the government.”
He said that that removing “state meddling in marriage will render void the edicts of federal judges that have overturned state laws defining the institution.”
“The founding generation never envisioned unelected judges issuing ex-cathedra pronouncements regarding the definition of social institutions, and the Constitution delegates the federal judiciary no authority to do so.”