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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wedding Legal Fun! I mean, Legal Wedding Fun! Fun Wedding Legal!


How do you become qualified to be an officiant at a wedding? Legally speaking, I mean.

My Google-fu is strong. I found this list of qualifications to be allowed to officiate at weddings, organized by state. Fascinating reading, if you have the time. The common denominator is, you have to be part of the gubmint (either a judge, county clerk, clerk of the court, mayor, councilperson, what have you) OR you have to be some species of religious poobah muckety muck. Most states are quite liberal in their definition of "sky pilot".

Alaska allows a "commissioned officer of the Salvation Army" to preform a wedding. Connecticut specifically states that "marriages witnessed by a duly constituted Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is are valid". Florida lets notary publics marry people. Guam keeps things simple by saying, simply "All ordained clergymen and priests of whatsoever religious faith who are recognized as such by the religious body whose faith they represent".

Hawaii lets members of Congress conduct weddings. Indiana, wanting to outdo Connecticut, recognizes "(6) The Friends Church, in accordance with the rules of the Friends Church. (7) The German Baptists, in accordance with the rules of their society. (8) The Bahai faith, in accordance with the rules of the Bahai faith. (9) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in accordance with the rules of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (10) An imam of a masjid (mosque), in accordance with the rules of the religion of Islam". A resident of Maine can be married in Maine by a lawyer and member of the Maine bar. Nevada allows even those authorized to preform marriages in other states to marry people in Las Vegas if they fill out a form.

New York allows leaders of The New York Society for Ethical Culture to preform weddings, and also I presume to drone on and on about secular humanism and to be as boring as real ministers of actual religions. in Ohio the "superintendent of the state school for the deaf" may preform weddings. In Oklahoma an "ecclesiastical dignitary" must be at least 18 to preform marriages, and Oklahoma is also the only state to refer to "him or her" instead of just "him". Pennsylvania requires that "marriage does require words uttered to establish at that precise time the relationship of husband and wife". South Carolina is the strictest, saying that "Only ministers of the Gospel or accepted Jewish rabbis and officers authorized to administer oaths in this State are authorized to administer a marriage ceremony". In fact, the only state in the union that will let any damn fool preform a wedding ceremony is Vermont, which doesn't appear to have any qualifications at all.

Yet there is no qualifications to actually get married. Maybe some kind of test or classes or counseling would be appropriate and help curtail divorce.

My baby bro got married last night, and my mind wandered during the chuppah. The lesson: when attending a sibling's wedding, charge your camera batteries beforehand. Otherwise, your camera will die and you will get bored and your mind will wander as you try not to die of heat exhaustion. Bonus: my bro's father in law's rebbi came, and at the chassan's tisch we learned that this esteemed individual is actually our third cousin (Jewish Geography ftw). When calling him up for a brocha under the chuppah, he was referred to as the "great uncle of the chassan". Hah.