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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:40 PM
Original message
Why Are Church Marriages Legal, and Gay Marriages Not?
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 01:29 PM by demwing
In a country that was built on the distinction--if not separation--of the sate from the church, why are marriages bestowed by a chucrh held legal, but those that offend a church are not?

When asked, the primary reason that I have been given in opposition to gay marriages is that it is against God's law (or some variation to that same end).

My response is "So?"

We don't operate in this country under God's law, we operate based on a constitution which derives its power from the consent of the people, not from any deity or divine guidance.

I propose that if gay marriages are not legal, then neither should be catholic marriages, or evangelical, baptist, mormon, jewish, etc.

EDITED NOTE - and by "church marriages" I mean marriages performed under the sanction of some church, regardless of the location or content of the ceremony. If a minister or clergy member signed off on the license, it was a church authorized marriage, licensed and recognized by the state.

The only marriages that should be legally recognized in the US are civil marriages, and ANYONE of legal age should be allowed to enter into such a marriage, just as they would any other legally binding contract.

And BTW - I am not gay, but I am religious. Also, I am a firm believer in democracy and democratic values. Just so you know where my self-interests lie.
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ComerPerro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. That is an intersting argument
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rinsd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. Sigh.....
Church marriages are conducted after people have obtained a marriage license from the state. That is the issue.

Legalized gay marriage will not make the Catholic Church marry gay people.

All it means is that the state recognizes the marriage.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #2
15. Sigh again
because you missed my point.

Where did I say that legalized gay marriage will make the church marry gay people?

I don't believe that, did not say that, and think you should reall reread the post.

Why should the state recognize a church wedding at all?
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #15
22. The State doesn't recognize a church wedding
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 01:02 PM by LostinVA
It recognizes the marriage license signed by a JP or proxy -- most ministers and priests are allowed to act as a JP and sign the license. THAT'S what is recognized. You can stand there and say nothing, or recite Led Zep lyrics, and you'd be just as married.

Marriage is a secular -- not a scared -- institution.

It is also a very modern institution, fueled by economics.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #22
31. But the license must be certified by some authority
and in most states, if not all states, members of the clergy are automatically qualified as that authority.

My point is that the church/churches should not be allowed to authorize a civil, secular union, anymore than a priest should be authorized to officiate over a trial.

Thats the job for a judge, or a justice of the peace.
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rinsd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #15
34. Then what was your point?
My point was that a church wedding ceremony had nothing to do with marriage and that it is a state licensing issue.

"Where did I say that legalized gay marriage will make the church marry gay people?"

Your post seemed so confused I figured I might point that out as well.

"Why should the state recognize a church wedding at all?"

The state ISN'T recognizing it.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #34
39. The state recognizes the clergy
who officiated over the ceremony as an officer of the state.

Church marriages are not simply marriages that happen in a church--though they often do--but marriages that are presided over by a so called civil authority, whose only qualification is that they are a member of some church.

Therefore, it is a "church wedding" as opposed to a "courthouse wedding."

I was married in a back yard, by a minister. I didn't have a "backyard wedding." I had a church wedding. Ask the minister.
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rinsd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #39
44. So this is all over semantics. Thanks for the waste of time (nt)
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #44
49. Read instead of react.
Its not semantics, it reality.

The clergy can authorize a marriage license. Why?

Why should ANY church member be allowed to authorize what SHOULD be a civil arrangement. Would you let a priest officiate a trial?

No, and neither would the state. If you think that's just about semantics, you missed the point, again.
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rinsd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #49
52. Its a convulted semantics argument
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 01:56 PM by rinsd
That will be more likely to scare people who are more than willing to support gay marriage into possibly not doing so. Especially if your argument is that the state must officiate marriage sans the church and that seems to be the crux of your argument.

Ask anyone leery of gay marriage what their #1 fear is and and your likely answer is a variance on interference with their church by the state in terms of marriage.

"If you think that's just about semantics, you missed the point, again"

And strawmen.

"Would you let a priest officiate a trial"

The JP powers of the clergy are severely limited but nice try.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:19 PM
Original message
No, it is not. Its a first amendment issue.
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 02:19 PM by demwing
For instance, in the state of Washington, a marriage license is issued by the state.

Is that it? No, you have 60 days to use that license of it expires.

Once the marriage is performed, "The officiant has thirty (30) days to return the signed and completed Dept. of Health Certificate of Marriage form and copy number 3 of the Marriage Certificate."

Who can be an officiant?
"State law prescribes who can perform marriage ceremonies. Under RCW26.04.050, active and retired justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, judges of the Superior Courts, Superior Court Commissioners, and any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest of any church or religious denomination, and judges of court of limited jurisdiction."

Clearly, clergy can officiate. I can not, because I meet none of the requirements. If I were to become a clergy member, then I could perform the marriage, complete the certificate, and return it top the court

Without the certification of marriage, signed and returned by the officiant, the marriage is not valid.
http://www.islandcounty.net/auditor/marriage.htm

Now, explain to me how that is a semantic issue.

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SouthernBelle82 Donating Member (879 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
3. It's my understanding
that the church itself has nothing to do with marriage. I have an aunt/uncle who are now in the church but before when they got married they got married through the court. When you do a wedding ceremony the preacher always says he (or she) has the power vested in that state. The only thing religion has to do with marriage is a nice ceremony.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
4. A church marriage is just a ceremony. The thing that makes it legal
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 12:46 PM by stopbush
is the marriage license you get from the state.

A church wedding without the license from the state isn't recognized as a legal marriage.

On edit: when I got married, the first thing the minister said to us when we got to the church
was, "can I see the marriage license?"

THEN he went ahead and performed the ceremony.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #4
21. Yes, but the average Joe cannot marry two people.
From the website FreeAdvice.com:

"Usually the state laws provide any recognized member of the clergy (such as a Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam, Cantor, Ethical Culture Leader, etc.), or a judge, a court clerk, and justices of the peace have authority to perform a marriage. However in some states even the clergy must be first certified or licensed.

Some states have laws that permit other persons to apply for authority to perform marriage ceremonies. For example, California law permits anyone to apply for permission to become a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages -- the grant of authority is valid for one day -- and thus officiate at the wedding of family or friends on that one day."

http://family-law.freeadvice.com/performmarriageceremon...

Also, on USMarriagelwas.com, there's a detailed list, state by state, on who can perform marriages. Most state note begin "Any member of the clergy" or words to that effect.

Why are clergy allowed to oversee civil arrangements?
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:03 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. Because they act as limited-powered JPs
Akin to a notary public, but with more power (I KNOW they're not the same, just explaining how they kinda work).
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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #4
29. It required his signature, though.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #4
56. I've had couples come to weddings with licenses from the wrong
county. I've done the service, but told them they would be married in the eyes of the Church, but not in the eyes of the state. I've told them I'll meet with them again and do their vows and sign another license, or they can go before a judge and have the license signed. BUt I did the ceremony even without a license. I don't work for the state, and don't really like signing licenses. I think that should be done by the county clerk or a judge or someone.

But I'm really swimming against the tide on this.
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
5. I agree. Marriage should be a state issue.
Blessings for that marriage should be a separate issue entirely.

If a church wants to bless only hetrosexual marriages, that's their choice. But the state should not be endorsing religious definitions of what constitutes a family.
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #5
16. Marriages ARE state issues/contracts
A religious marriage ceremony is not the "marriage," it is only a religious blessing bestowed upon the CIVIL marriage union.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #16
33. The ceremony is irrelevant
it's the fact that a clergy member can act in the capacity of a justice or a judge.

If we let priests officate over a trial, there would be an uproar. Why not the same response over marriages?
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Clark2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #33
40. Because they're not officiating over the whole marriage - just
the wedding DAY.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #40
46. Are Clergy allowed to OK a marriage License? Yes or No?
The answer is yes.

My question is "Why?"
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bperci108 Donating Member (969 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #46
53. Not as far as I know.
All they are required to do is have a valid one before they officiate at the wedding.

IOW, no valid contractual document issued by the state; no marriage.

The "church part" is merely ceremony, nothing more.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #53
55. I refer you to my post #30
for a state by state list of what the clergy must do to officiate over a wedding ceremony, and finalize a marriage license
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bperci108 Donating Member (969 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #33
51. I'm sure the practice of delegating this was rooted in religious tradition....
But it may have practical roots as well.

With as many people that marry every week, could you imagine how many weddings a JP would have to do if the clergy were stripped of the right to marry?

I guess we could try those "mass weddings" that Rev. Moon is so fond of...maybe get some official GOP support, since he is one of their darlings.

:rofl:

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ND Pendie Donating Member (17 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #51
88. There were less than 2.5 million marriages in the year 2000
thats about 48,000 per week, averaging out to about 960 per week, per state, give or take

In contrast, California alone processed 4.97 million new class C driver licenses that same year.

Thats just class C. In just one (admittedly huge) state.

I think that the JPs could handle the work, or else it could be done by computer, or even at the new "DMD" (Department of Marriages and Divorces). Put some people to work, build a tax base, instead of the clergy, who don't pay taxes.




I'm partially kidding here, just in case anyone missed it.

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SouthernBelle82 Donating Member (879 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #5
28. Exactly
I think if churches get that through their heads we could see a change in the debate in gay marriage in this country. People need to know that churches can not have anything to do with gay marriages if that's their choice and the same for churches who do want to get involved.
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tenshi816 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #5
89. Yes, that's the way it's done in the UK.
I got married in England and we were actually married in a Registry Office (like getting married at a city hall in the States) ceremony followed by a church blessing the following day that was exactly like any other big church wedding, with a minister, wedding gown, lots of people, hymns, "here comes the bride", etc.

The marriage was official as soon as we said "I do" in the Registry Office.

When you get right down to it, all UK marriages are civil unions, which is probably why the issue of gay marriage has been such a non-issue.
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Coexist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
6. religious marriage ceremonies are actually "blessings"
on the civil (legally binding) signature/notarized paperwork.

Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
17. You are 100% right
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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:45 PM
Response to Original message
7. IMHO an underlying factor is corporate exposure to claims
for benefits. What does a gay marriage threaten? Almost nothing with respect to other peoples' values. Certainly not their marriages.

But it could increase the number of individuals that can apply for benefits if a business provides spousal/family benefits. And we all know how much companies hate increased exposure to costs.
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helderheid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
8. That's how the Netherlands views it. Church marriages are not legal.
If you want a legally binding relationship you can either register as a couple or have a civil union. You want to be married in the church, by all means go ahead but it won't be recognized by the government.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
9. I believe you still have to apply to get married through the county
before you get married through the church. At least, that's the way it was for us. A civil marriage, before a church one. Things may have changed.

That's why gays should either work on making the civil marriages stick first, then they should work on attending and supporting whatever denomination is willing to marry them off in church.

I think it's not realistic to expect the real traditional churches from ever caving in on this issue. At least not in our lifetimes.
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Yep. That's how it was for us. In fact, IIRC the county clerk
said somehting like, "you're now legally married," and we got the license a day or two before
the wedding ceremony.
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #9
19. The gay marriage issue has NOTHING to do with churches "caving in"
All we want is a civil marriage -- just like everyone else. Why do we want a private institution, whose ceremony MEANS NOTHING LEGAL, to "cave in"?

See? You don't understand either -- you're confused about it.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #19
63. Actually, you all are sending mixed-messages.
YOU might be happy with a civil marriage, but, YOU don't represent every gay activist out there, do you? Some are upset that the churches don't give them the right to marry gay couples.
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Bill McBlueState Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #9
37. I think that's what we're all working on
And I say "we" because equal marriage isn't just an issue for gay people.

Nobody expects the various morally backward churches to start performing same-sex weddings. The more progressive churches are already doing it, so who cares about the rest of them?

The equal marriage movement is about getting equal recognition for all marriages under the law, not under someone's god.
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BOSSHOG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
10. Excellent point, but
don't people who get married still have to get a marriage license from the state and that is the official document which makes the marriage legitimate? We were married in a Catholic Church 30 plus years ago but we had to get state sanctioned blood tests and pay for a license from the state.

If a couple were joined in holy matrimony in a church (in this country) and failed to get a marriage license from the state would their "marriage" be valid?
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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. I got married in 1989. They had dropped the blood test at that point.
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #10
20. No, their marriage wouldn't be valid
And, real clergy would refuse to perform the ceremony.

What marries you is the license, signed by a JP or the equivalent (ie a minister/priest who is allowed to act as a JP where weddings are concerned).

The ceremony in the church has zip to do with you being married.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #20
36. You keep taliking about the ceremony
Thats a non issue.

Here's the critical part "What marries you is the license, signed by a JP or the equivalent (ie a minister/priest who is allowed to act as a JP where weddings are concerned."

The fact that we let the clergy get involved gives the appearance that the marriage is somehow more than a secular arrangmement, according to the state.

Let people get married ONLY in the DMV for 25 years, and lets see if gay marriages are ever an issue again.
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Bill McBlueState Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #36
38. "let clergy get involved"
A law restricting the right of a church to perform a religious ceremony inside its walls would probably be unconstitutional.

As the laws stand, people already have to go to the county courthouse to get married. Any religious addition to the legal process is up to them, as it should be.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #38
42. Make the distinction
Between a ceremony authorized by a church, and the authorization of a civil marriage license.

Yay! You got a blessing by a priest. You'll go to heaven because you're not living in sin, or whatever. Thats fine for the people who want an extra step, to get God's benediction or however they want to see it.

Just because I get my car blessed by a priest does not mean I have a license to drive.

The church should stay in the blessing business, and get out of the civil authority business.

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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #20
76. I'm real clergy, and I'd do that wedding
No question. I'd just make sure the couple understood that they wouldn't be recognized as married by the state. Once we're clear on that, I'd tell the organist to start playin'! I'm more concerned with a marriage being recognized by the couple, their friends and family, their religious community, and their Creator. I could give a rat's ass about the state. As long as the aforementioned recognize it as a marriage, it's a marriage. No social security benefits, and the like, but those aren't what makes it a marriage.

This is why I do same sex weddings, and pronounce the couple married, and everything. I work for the church not the state.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #10
23. Yes, you must get a license, but that just makes the issue more confounding!
Because having a license isn't that same as being married, not until the ceremony is performed and witnessed by a judge, clerk, or clergy.

Why does the clergy have the right to sign off on a marriage?
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #23
26. See above -- they act as limited-power JPs
Kinda like a notary public can do certain things that other people can't.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #26
35. You seem to be avoiding my point
I know they act as civil authorities.

My point is that they should not be alowed to do so.

How would it change the debate about gay marriages in this country, if the ONLY way to get you marriage license certified and signed off on, was to go to a building like the DMV and take a number.

No one says that gays should not have a drivers license. Its insane.

Yet, we continue to have a dabate in this country over gay marriages, based on the assumption that marriage is somehow MORE than a civil ceremony. A major part of that assumption is due to the fact that we let the church get invlved in a matter that should only be presided over by the state.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
60. It would be valid in the eyes of the church, but not in the eyes of the state
For me, the religious meaning is more important, but that's me. If I were to get married again, I'm not sure I'd want the license and all the legal bullshit. That just gets lawyers involved if it ends. After my divorce, I hate lawyers--even the one who "represented" me.

Give me a church wedding, but I'd like to forego the license and its attendant bullshit.
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Ravy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
12. The government should recognize civil unions... get out of marriage.
I don't see how the "religious" right can claim sanctity of marriage when a ship captain, justice of the peace, or anyone who fills out a web-form online to become a "minister" can do it.

Let the state recognition of a union be called a civil union, let churches be free to marry or not marry anyone they want to. The government should recognize church marriages only if the couple has applied for and obtained a civil union license.

Semantics, yes... but it advances the cause of equality by years. Most people support civil unions.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #12
43. Thank you.
my point exactly
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #12
73. "no state authorizes ship captains to perform marriages."
I was real disappointed to read that, thought I had found the answer to everyone's problems.

http://www.USMarriagelaws.com

FSM would bless your marriage, and the captain would say, "Arrrr! I now pronounce ye man and matey!"
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:52 PM
Response to Original message
14. A church marriage isn't a legal marriage
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 12:53 PM by LostinVA
The CIVIL license issued by a CIVIL authority is the legal "marriage." The clergy just performs the ceremony, but his/her signature is equivalent to a JP's... a CIVIL AUTHORITY. He/she is allowed, by a CIVIL AUTHORITY, to act as a CIVIL AUTHORITY. Religion has zip to do with it.

Marriage is a CIVIL CONTRACT. That's why this whole anti gay marriage argument is stupid and illegal.

ALL MARRIAGES ARE CIVIL MARRIAGES.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #14
25. Religion does have something to do with it
Because just by being a clergy, you qualify as that civil authority.

Why?
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. No, religion has nothing to do with it
Not every minister or priest is allowed to marry people. Different states and municipalities have different laws. Some people who aren't clergy can also marry people -- in certain places.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #27
32. My point is that religion should NOT have a part
but it does.

You seem to be thinking that I'm saying that marriage is a religious institution, and I am not.

It is a secular, civl instition that should only be authorized by a judge or a JP, or some other CIVIL authority.

Why let the clergy act in this capacity?
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Dob Bole Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #32
47. I think the opposite is true...
Government has no part in marriage. In fact, I got married three months ago and I couldn't even tell you where my marriage license is...because I don't care.

The fact is, there are churches that condone same-sex marriages, but they aren't honored by the government.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #47
54. If you believe that marriages are church matters
then I say that marriage should not be a matter that affects insurance coverage, death benefits, inheritance, or any other legal standing.

Such a church marriage should be ceremonial only, with no licensing involved.

If, however, you think marriages should have legal standing, then I say that churches should not be allowed to get involved at any point.

Perhaps "marriage" should be a ceremonial church issue. And all further civil issues should be governed by court licensed unions.

Two different actions, never intermingling.

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Dob Bole Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #54
58. Right. Civil unions for everyone, if you will...
Government would enforce marriages just like any other contract, but "marriage" would not be a government designation. It would be private.
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calico1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:13 PM
Response to Reply #32
62. You can get married in a civil ceremony and it
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 02:14 PM by calico1
will be legal even with no church ceremony. But if you were to get a priest to perform a wedding ceremony without you having a marriage license then that would not be a legally recognized marriage, unless of course the priest is also a JP. I have never known any that were.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #62
69. thats not the point
If you were married by your (non-ordained minister) pool cleaner guy, your marriage would not be considered valid. At least not in most states.
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calico1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #69
72. That is true but the church ceremony is considered
valid because the couple already has the marriage license. The church makes it "official" in the eyes of the church but it isn't legal without the license. I understood from your first post that church marriages are legal by themselves.
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
18. If a church doesn't believe in gay marriages, then they shouldn't bless them
Just like if a church doesn't believe in condoms, then they shouldn't allow their own members to use them-- but they have no business telling a government not to distribute them to poor countries dying of AIDS.

Who the state marries is no business of any church.

And who a church chooses to bless is no business of the government.

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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:07 PM
Response to Original message
30. State by State Requirements For Clergy (long Post)
From http://usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/offician...

Alabama
Any licensed minister of the gospel in regular communion with the Christian church or society of which he is a member may perform marriages. Also, marriages may be performed by the pastor of any religious society according to the rules of the religious society. --- Ministers must provide a certificate of the marriage to the judge of probate within one month after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk for the judge of probate.

Alaska
The minister, priest or rabbi of any church or congregation in the state may perform marriages. --- Ministers must provide marriage certificates to the couple married and report the marriage to the Marriage Commissioner.

Arizona
Any licensed or ordained clergyman may perform marriages. --- Ministers must record the marriage on the marriage license and return it to the clerk of the Superior Court within 20 days after the marriage. - -- For questions see the clerk of the Superior Court

Arkansas
Any regularly ordained minister or priest of any religious sect or denomination may perform marriages. --- Ministers must have their ordination credentials filed by the county clerk who will then issue a certificate to the minister. --- The marriage license must be completed by the minister and returned to the county clerk within 60 days from the date the license was issued. --- For questions see the county clerk.

California
Any priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination, of the age of 18 years or over may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete the marriage license and return it to the county clerk within 4 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Colorado
Marriages may be performed by any minister. --- Ministers must send a marriage certificate to the county clerk. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Connecticut
All ordained or licensed clergymen belonging to this state or any other state may perform marriages as long as they continue in the work of the ministry. -- - Marriage license must be completed by the minister and returned to the city or town clerk. --- For questions see the city or town clerk.

Delaware
Any ordained minister of the gospel and every minister in charge of a recognized church may perform marriages. --- Ministers do not need to be licensed to perform marriages but they must report their name and address to the local registrar in the district in which they live. --- Ministers must keep the marriage license or a copy for at least one year. Also, the minister must, within 4 days, complete and return forms required by the State Board of Health to the clerk of the peace. --- For questions see the clerk of the peace.

District of Columbia
Ordained ministers of the gospel may perform marriages. --- Marriage licenses are addressed to the minister who will perform the ceremony. The minister must complete a marriage certificate for the bride and for the groom and return another certificate to the clerk of the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions within 10 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of the Court of General Sessions.

If a member of your "religious society" is already registered as a minister qualified to perform weddings, you fill out an application, get the already-registered person to sign as "endorser", pay $35, and you're in. Application is available by fax-back from 202-879-4840.

If your "society" does not already have a minister registered in DC, then you have to assemble (I'm summarizing from the official information handout):

"The following documentation has been found by many judges of this court to be sufficient evidence of affiliation with a religious society to support the granting of an authorization to perform marriage ceremonies in the District of Columbia."

A certificate from the headquarters of the religious body showing that you are a minister

A copy of the charter of the society and a copy of the applicant's ordination

An affidavit from the applicant giving details on how long he has been a minister, where and how often he conducts religious meetings, the congregation size, whether or not he is a full-time minister, etc.

An endorsement from a "reputable" citizen of DC saying that the applicant is known as a religious minister and is a person of good moral character.

"If any of the above documentation cannot be produced, it would be helpful to the Court's determination to produce a written explanation of that omission." Oh, and everything must be either "certified or notarized".

Official Information:
For more information, you can call (202) 879-4850.

Florida
All regularly ordained ministers of the gospel in communion with some church may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete a certificate of marriage on the marriage license and return it to the office from which it was issued. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Georgia
Any minister who is authorized by his or her church may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete a certificate of marriage and return it to the ordinary within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the ordinary's clerk at the county courthouse.

Hawaii
Any minister may perform marriages if they are authorized by their church to do so. --- Ministers must obtain a license from the department of health before performing marriages. -Ministers must keep a record of all marriages they perform. Ministers must report all marriages they perform to the department of health. --- For questions see the department of health.

Idaho
Marriages may be performed by priests or ministers of the gospel of any denomination. --- Ministers must give a marriage certificate to the bride and to the groom. Also, the minister must complete the license and marriage certificate and return it to the recorder who issued it within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county recorder.

Illinois
Marriages may be performed by ministers of the gospel in regular standing in the church or society to which they belong. --- The marriage license and certificate must be completed by the minister and returned to the county clerk within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Indiana
Ministers of the gospel and priests of every church throughout the state may perform marriages. ---Ministers must return the marriage license and a certificate of marriage to the clerk of the circuit court within 3 months after the marriage. ---For questions see the clerk of the circuit court.

Iowa
Ministers of the gospel who are ordained by their church may perform marriages. --- Minister must give a certificate of marriage to the bride and to the groom. Also, the minister must report the marriage to the clerk of the district court within 15 days after the marriage. -For questions see the clerk of the district court.

Kansas
Any ordained clergyman of any religious denomination or society may perform marriages. --Ministers are required to file credentials or ordination with the judge of a probate court before performing marriages. --- Minister must return the marriage license and a certificate of marriage to the probate judge who issued the marriage license within 10 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of the probate court.

Kentucky
Marriages may be performed by any minister of the gospel or priests of any denomination with any religious society. --- Ministers must be licensed before performing marriages. See the local county clerk for a license. --- Ministers must return the marriage license and marriage certificate to the county clerk within 3 months after the marriage. --- It is illegal to solicit marriages. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Louisiana
Ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society may perform marriages. --- Ministers must register with the clerk of the district court of the parish or with the health department if in New Orleans. --- After performing a marriage, the minister must complete a marriage certificate and return it to the clerk of the district court. --- For questions see the clerk of the district court.

Maine
"A marriage, solemnized before any known inhabitant of the State professing to be a justice, judge, justice of the peace or notary public, or an ordained or licensed minister of the gospel, is not void, nor is its validity affected by any want of jurisdiction or authority in the justice, judge, justice of the peace, notary or minister or by any omission or informality in entering the intention of marriage, if the marriage is in other respects lawful and consummated with a full belief, on the part of either of the persons married, that they are lawfully married." (Title 19A 657)

Whether a resident or nonresident of this State and whether or not a citizen of the United States:

An ordained minister of the gospel; A cleric engaged in the service of the religious body to which the cleric belongs; or A person licensed to preach by an association of ministers, religious seminary or ecclesiastical body. (Title 19A 655)

"Every person authorized to unite persons in marriage shall make and keep a record of every marriage solemnized by that person in conformity with the forms and instructions prescribed by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics ..." (Title 19A 654)

"A person who solemnizes a marriage when not authorized to do so under section 655 commits a civil violation for which a forfeiture not to exceed $100 for each offense may be adjudged. Forfeitures collected must be distributed to the municipality in which the offense occurred." (Title 19A 659)

Official Information:
Maine's State Legislature (search statutes)

If questions should arise concerning any aspect of the marriage process or marriage laws in the State of Maine, the Department of Human Services, Bureau of Vital Records is the state agency which handles information for this particular area. You may contact this office at:

Department of Human Services
Bureau of Vital Records
11 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0011
(207) 287-3181

Maryland
In Maryland, any adult can sign as clergy, as long as the couple who are getting married agree that he is a clergy. The celebrant doesn't have to be a resident, register in advance, or fulfil any other requirements.

Massachusetts
Ordained ministers of the gospel may perform marriages. --- Before performing marriages, ministers are required to apply for a certificate from the state. For applications write to: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the Secretary, Supervisor, Commissions Division, State House, Boston, Massachusetts 02133. You must file a copy of your ordination certificate and a statement from the church saying that you are in good standing. Please let us know well in advance if you need a statement from us. --- Ministers must keep records of all marriages they perform. Also, ministers must return a certificate of the marriage to the town clerk or registrar who issued the marriage license and to the town clerk of the town where the marriage was performed. --- For questions see the town clerk or registrar or write to the Secretary of State.

Michigan
A minister of the gospel who is ordained or authorized by his or her church to perform marriages and who is a pastor of a church in this state, or continues to preach the gospel in this state may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete a marriage certificate and give one to the couple. Another marriage certificate must be returned to the county clerk who issued the license within 10 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Minnesota
Any licensed or ordained minister of the gospel in regular communion with a religious society may perform marriages. --- Ministers must file a copy of their credentials of ordination with the clerk of the district court of any county. --- Ministers must give a marriage certificate to the bride and groom and also file a certificate with the clerk of the district court in the county which issued the marriage license. --- For questions see the clerk of the district court.

Mississippi
Any ordained minister of the gospel who is in good standing with his or her church may perform marriages. --- Ministers must send a certificate of marriage to the clerk who issued the marriage license within three months after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of the circuit court.

Missouri
Marriages may be performed by any clergyman who is a citizen of the United States and who is in good standing with any church or synagogue in this state. --- Ministers must keep a record of all marriages they perform. They must give the couple a marriage certificate and must complete the marriage license and return it to the recorder of deeds within 90 days after the marriage license was issued. --- For questions see the recorder of deeds.

Montana
Ministers of the gospel of any denomination may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete and return a marriage certificate to the clerk of the district court within 30 days after the marriage. Also the minister must provide marriage certificates to the bride and groom upon request. ---For questions see the clerk of the district court.

Nebraska
Any ordained clergyman whatsoever, without regard to the sect to which they belong may perform marriages. --- Ministers must report marriages they perform to the county judge who issued the marriage license within 15 days after the marriage. Also the minister must provide marriage certificates to the bride and groom upon request. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Nevada
Any ordained minister in good standing with his denomination, whose denomination is incorporated or organized or established in the State of Nevada may perform marriages. --- Ministers are required to apply for a certificate of permissions to perform marriages. Among other requirements, the applicant's ministry must be primarily one of service to his congregation or denomination and his performance of marriages must be incidental to such service. See Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Certificates of Permission to perform marriages.

New Hampshire
Marriages may be performed by any ordained minister of the gospel who resides in the state and is in good standing with his church. Ministers not residing in the state may obtain permission to perform a marriage upon application to the Secretary of State. --- Ministers must send a copy of the marriage certificate to the town clerk. ---For questions see the town clerk.

New Jersey
In New Jersey, " and every minister of every religion, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriage between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation; and every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join together in marriage such persons according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization." It is a misdemeanor for someone not so authorized to "solemnize" a marriage and it is a misdemeanor for someone who is authorized to perform a marriage without the presentation of a license. (Title 37:1-13,15)

As in most states, the prospective bride and groom give the marriage license directly to the minister: "Before a marriage can be lawfully performed in this state, the persons intending to be married shall obtain a marriage license from the licensing officer and deliver it to the person who is to officiate, but if the marriage is to be performed by or before any religious society, institution or organization, the license shall be delivered to such religious society, institution or organization, or any officer thereof." (Title 37:1-2)

A clergyman is also permitted to do "work of a psychological nature consistent with the accepted standards of their respective professions" and "work of a marriage and family therapy nature, ... , when acting within the scope of the person's profession or occupation and doing work consistent with the person's training". (Title 45:14B-8, 8B-8)

Official Information:
The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services
New Jersey State Legislature (search statutes)

New Mexico
Any ordained clergyman whatsoever, without regard to the sect to which he or she may belong may perform marriages. --- Ministers must provide the county clerk with a marriage certificate within 90 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

New York
Important Note: The City of New York has significantly different laws and procedures from the rest of the state. See "New York City" below.

Ministers must complete a marriage certificate and return it to the town or city clerk who issued the marriage license within 5 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the town or city clerk.

To be valid, a marriage ceremony must be performed by any of the individuals specified in Section 11 of the New York State Domestic Relations Law. These include:

Various government officials;

a member of the clergy or minister who has been officially ordained and granted authority to perform marriage ceremonies from a governing church body in accordance with the rules and regulations of the church body;

a member of the clergy or minister who is not authorized by a governing Church body but who has been chosen by a spiritual group to preside over their spiritual affairs;

other officiants as specified by Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law.

The person performing the ceremony must be registered with the City of New York in order to perform a ceremony within the New York City limits. The officiant does not have to be a resident of New York State.

Ship captains are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in New York State.

New York City
In a nutshell: If the address on your Drivers License is within NYC limits, you will need three things to be able to perform marriages within NYC, instead of only one. They are:
Ordination Certificate
Founding Document
and a Letter signed by one member of your Congregation.

Before performing marriages in New York City, the minister must register his or her name and address in the office of the city clerk of the city of New York and show some documentation.

The Official NYC handbook on the Domestic Relations Law, p. 89., / /C11:2 (subdivision 1) permits a clergyman or minister of any religion to solemnize marriages. "Clergyman or minister" includes a duly authorized pastor, rector, priest, or rabbi. It also includes any other person having authority from, or in accordance with, the rules and regulations of the governing ecclesiastical body of the denomination or order, if any, to which the church belongs. Persons who otherwise have authority from the church or synagogue to preside over and direct the spiritual affairs of the church or synagogue are likewise included. DRL 11 (subd. 7): Religious Corporations Law 2. The statute explicitly recognizes the solemnization authority of certain leaders of Ethical Culture Societies. DRL 11 (subd 1)

While the state may act to prevent marriages being solemnized by mere philanderers purporting to officiate under the guise of a pseudo-religious faith, it may not interdict marriage ceremonies having a reverent character performed by a person having ecclesiastical sanction. O'Neal v. Hubbard, 180 Misc. 40 N.Y.S.2d 202 (Sup.Ct. Kings County 1943) (holding unconstitutional statutory provision limiting solemnization to ministers affiliated with religions listed in a federal census of religious bodies).

To have authority to solemnize marriages, there is no requirement that the church, synagogue, or other religious congregation over which the clergyman presides be affiliated with any denomination or order. Nor is there any requirement that clergy have received formal sanctioning authority from a governing board of a denomination or order or from the church, synagogue, or congregation itself. Matter of Silverstein's Estate, 190 Misc. 745, 75 N.Y.S.2d 144 (Surr.Ct.Bronx County 1947). This, where the proof showed that the clergyman who performed the marriage ceremony had regularly conducted services in a synagogue attended by some twenty-five congregants, the court found that there was sufficient evidence that the clergyman was recognized by his congregants as their spiritual leader. In re Silverstein's Estate, supra.

The liberality in construction is stretched to the breaking point where the officiating clergyman appears to be a mere philanderer professing a pseudo-religious faith. In Ravenal v. Ravenal, 72 Misc.2d 100, 338 N.Y.S.2d 324 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.County 1972), at issue was the validity of a marriage purportedly solemnized by a person who obtained his minister's credentials by mail, who did not preside over an actual church or religious organization, whose beliefs did not provide for any form of worship or religious service, and whose accrediting organization professed a willingness to ordain anyone for a modest free will offering. The court concluded that, under these circumstances, the person who performed the ceremony could not be properly viewed, even with the benefit of a liberal construction, as a clergyman or minister of a religion. The Ravenal case represents an extreme situation where the person who purported to solemnize the marriage lacked, at least to the court's mind, any of the objective manifestations of attributes generally associated with ministers or clergy. The court appears to have been convinced that the solemnizing officer was a charlatan, claiming ecclesiastical authority by virtue of a mail order ordination granted by a corporate entity that would ordain all comers. Where the parties to the marriage and the person who solemnized the marriage belong to, or ascribe to, a genuine religious faith, then the authority of the officiating person must be recognized.

The question of genuineness of religious faith is tested by objective criteria such as the regularity of worship and the existence of tenets or principles. The subjective values of the particular religion or faith are irrelevant, no matter how unconventional or no matter how unschooled in theology the clergyman appears to be.

Marriages among people of denominations who have a particular mode or manner of solemnizing marriages may be solemnized in the manner used and practice by their denomination. DRL 2.

Now I quote from another mystery document that appears to be the regulations or statutes controlling the City Clerk. (It might be Title 51--City Clerk.) I think that this is page "15293 RCNY 6-30-91"

3-06 Marriage Officiant Registration. Pursuant to 11-B of the Domestic Relations Law, the Office of the City Clerk will accept the registration of officiants to perform wedding ceremonies within the city of New York upon presentation of documentary proof of authority as outlined below.

(a) In the case of clergy, the person wishing to register (hereafter "the registrant") must comply with one of the following:

(1) In cases where the denomination publishes a directory of its clergy, the registrant may show that he or she is listed in that directory. If the registrant's name does not yet appear in the denominational directory, the registrant claiming membership in that denomination may instead present written confirmation for that membership from the body that puts out the directory. Such confirmation can also consist of a certificate or letter showing that the registrant graduated from the seminary or theological school pertaining to the denomination.

(2) In cases where the denomination does not have such a directory, the registrant must show several pieces of documentary proof of authority. First, the registrant must present an ordination certificate accompanied, if necessary, by an English translation thereof. Ordination certificates issued by the Universal Life Church or its affiliates are not acceptable as evidence of clerical authority based on Ranieri v. Ranieri, New York Law Journal, March 27, 1989. Ravenal v. Ravenal, 72 Misc.2d 100, 338 N.Y.S.2d 324 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.County 1972). In lieu of an ordination certificate, the registrant must present a "license to minister" or a letter of appointment from his or her religious body, i.e. from its hierarch or its board of trustees. Second, the registrant must present a letter from his or her local congregation verifying that he or she is the pastor or associate pastor of that congregation, and that the congregation therefore consents to the registering of that individual. Lastly, if the church is incorporated, the registrant must present a copy of the articles of incorporation. If the church is not incorporated, the registrant must submit a statement as to the location of the house of worship, the reason for its founding, the number of trustees, the approximate size of its congregation, and how often it meets.

(3) In cases where the registrant belongs to a denomination that does not have a directory and does not grant certificates of ordination or licenses to minister, the registrant must present a letter stating that he or she is the recognized spiritual leader of a congregation, and that the congregation therefore consents to the registering of that individual. The registrant must also submit a statement as to the location of the house of worship, the reason for its founding, the number of trustees, the approximate size of its congregation, and how often it meets.

(b) In the case of judges <...>

Official Information:
City Clerk's Office, Clergy Registration desk
Audrey Sparks, +1-212-669-8095.
City Clerk's Office, General Counsel
Ed O'Malley, +1-212-669-8171

North Carolina
Any ordained minister of any faith who is authorized to perform marriages by his church may do so. --- ministers must complete the marriage license and return it to the register of deeds who issued it. --- For questions see the register of deeds.

North Dakota
Ordained ministers of the gospel and priests of every church may perform marriages. --- Ministers must file a certificate of marriage with the county judge who issued the license within 5 days after the marriage. Certificates must also be given to the persons married. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Ohio
To have legally recognized clergy status in Ohio, one must have ordination papers from a church recognized in Ohio.

Contact the Ohio Secretary of State at 30 E. Broad St., 14th Floor; Columbus, OH 43266-0418. Request the application for a minister's license. When you receive it, send the completed form, a photocopy of your ordination certificate, and a $10 check or money order to the above address. This will take 2-3 weeks.

By Ohio Law, licensed clergy must report suspected child or elder abuse to authorities, as well as follow State laws when marrying couples. A summary of the laws is provided at licensure. This license makes chaplaincy status at hospitals, etc. easier to obtain.

Any ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation within this state may perform marriages. --- Before performing a marriage, ministers must present their ordination credentials to the probate judge of any county. The judge will provide the minister with a license to perform marriages. The minister must then present his license to the probate judge in any county in which he performs a marriage. ---Ministers must send a certificate of marriage to the probate judge of the county which issued the marriage license within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of the probate court.

Oklahoma
Oklahoma statutes provide for clergy who are not licensed therapists to give certain kinds of counseling. Clergymen may also visit prisoners. The law also provides a right to confidential communications with a clergyman acting in his professional capacity. In this state, the confidentiality belongs the communicant, not in the clergyman.

Weddings
Constitution of Oklahoma: Article I 2. Religious Liberty -- Polygamous or plural marriages. Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of the State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; and no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. Polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited.

Title 43 7 Solemnization of marriages. A. All marriages must be contracted by a formal ceremony performed or solemnized in the presence of at least two adult, competent persons as witnesses, by a judge or retired judge of any court of record in this state, or an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi and who is at least eighteen (18) years of age. The preacher, minister, priest, rabbi or ecclesiastical dignitary who is a resident of this state shall have filed, in the office of the court clerk of the county in which he resides, a copy of his credentials or authority from his church or synagogue authorizing him to solemnize marriages. The preacher, minister, priest, rabbi or ecclesiastical dignitary who is not a resident of this state, but has complied with the laws of the state of which he is a resident, shall have filed once, in the office of the court clerk of the county in which he intends to perform or solemnize a marriage, a copy of his credentials or authority from his church or synagogue authorizing him to solemnize marriages. Such filing by resident or nonresident preachers, ministers, priests, rabbis or ecclesiastical dignitaries shall be effective in and for all counties of this state; provided, that no fee shall be charged for such recording; but no person herein authorized to perform or solemnize the marriage ceremony shall do so unless the license issued therefor be first delivered into his possession nor unless he has good reason to believe the persons presenting themselves before him for marriage are the identical persons named in the license, and for whose marriage the name was issued, and that there is no legal objection or impediment to such marriage.

B. Marriages between persons belonging to the society called Friends, or Quakers, the spiritual assembly of the Baha'Is, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which have no ordained minister, may be solemnized by the persons and in the manner prescribed by and practiced in any such society, church or assembly.

Title 43 8 Endorsement and return of license. The person performing or solemnizing the marriage ceremony shall immediately upon the completion thereof endorse upon the license authorizing the marriage his name; official or clerical designation; the court of which he is judge or the congregation or body of which he is pastor, preacher, minister, priest, rabbi or dignitary, provided, that the authority to perform or solemnize marriages shall be coextensive with the congregation or body of which he is pastor, preacher, minister, priest, rabbi or dignitary; the town or city and county where the same is located; and signed by him with his official or clerical designation. The witnesses to the ceremony shall endorse the license authorizing the marriage with their names and post office addresses. The license with such certificate thereon shall be transmitted without delay to the judge or the court clerk who issued the same. Provided that all marriages solemnized among the society called Friends, or Quakers, the spiritual assembly of the Baha'Is, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the form heretofore practiced and in use in their meetings shall be good and valid. One person chosen by such society, church or assembly shall be responsible for completing the certification of marriage pursuant to this title in the same manner as a minister or other person authorized to perform marriages. Such person shall be chosen by the society, church or assembly for this purpose.

Official Information:
Oklahoma Public Legal Research System


Oregon
Ministers of any church organized, carrying on its work, and having congregations in this state may perform marriages in this state if authorized by their church to do so. --- Before performing marriages, ministers must file their credentials with the county clerk of the county in which they reside or in which the marriage is to be performed. --- Ministers must give the bride and groom a marriage certificate upon request. Also, the minister must send a marriage certificate to the county clerk who issued the marriage license within one month after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Pennsylvania
Ministers of any regularly established church or congregation may perform marriages. Also, persons may marry themselves if they obtain a certificate from the clerk of the orphans' court. --- Ministers must provide a certificate of marriage to the bride and groom. Also, they must send a marriage certificate to the clerk of the orphans' court who issued the marriage license within 10 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of the orphans' court.

Rhode Island
Everyone who has been, or is, the minister of any society professing to meet for religious purposes, or incorporated for the promotion of such purposes, and holding stated and regular services, and who has been ordained according to the customs and usage's of such society may perform marriages. --- Ministers must obtain a license from the city or town clerk before performing marriages. --- Ministers must endorse and return the marriage license to the town or city clerk in which the marriage was performed. --- For questions see the town or city clerk.

South Carolina
Ministers of the gospel who are authorized to administer oaths in this state may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete the marriage license and give one copy to the parties and the other two must be returned to the county judge of probate who issued it within 15 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county judge of probate or his clerk.


Also, anyone that is a notary public in the state of South Carolina is authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.

P. Thomas
Notary Public
State of South Carolina


South Dakota
Marriages may be performed by a minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination. --- Ministers must provide the bride and groom with marriage certificates upon request. Ministers must also keep a record book of all marriages they perform. Finally, the minister must send a marriage certificate to the clerk who issued the marriage license within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of courts.

Tennessee
State, province, or other jurisdiction - is a state licensure.

What activities require "clergy" (e.g. wedding)

Weddings and Funerals for sure, not so clear on other activities.

What activities "clergy" gets to do (e.g. jail visit)

Again, this is really unclear under Tennessee Law.

What does "clergy" mean there?

"Clergy" is very ambiguous under Tennessee Law.

How do you get certified as "clergy" in Tennessee?

To get certified as Clergy, you have to submit to the county courthouse a statement from your denomination or congregation saying that you are a confirmed or ordained minister. Then you have to file a certain Tax form, and fill out a questionnaire, which costs between $200 - $300. Of course, then you have to figure out how you are taxed, which can be a headache. Suggestion, Hire a bookkeeper and keep immaculate records.

Official Information:
Tennessee Domestic Relations


Texas
Ordained Christian ministers and priests; Jewish rabbis and persons who are officers of religious organizations and who are duly authorized by the organization to conduct marriage ceremonies may perform marriages. --- Ministers must complete the marriage license and return it to the county clerk who issued it within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Utah
Ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination who are in regular communion with any religious society may perform marriages. ---Ministers must provide a certificate of marriage to the county clerk who issued the marriage license within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Vermont
Ordained ministers residing in this state may perform marriages. Non-resident ordained ministers may perform marriages with the permission of the probate court of the district within which the marriage is to take place. --- Ministers must complete the marriage license and certificate of marriage and return it to the clerk's office from which it was issued within ten days from the date of the marriage. --- For questions see the town clerk.

Virginia
The procedure in Virginia is less well defined. According to the official in Arlington County, you bring (in person) your "certificate of ordination", a photo ID, and $16 the Clerk's office of any Circuit Court. Then the clerk will ask you "some questions" about things like whether or not you have a congregation in Virginia, how many members, and whether your group is recognized as a religious group by the IRS. Then either the clerk will register you or buck the problem up to a judge. Nonresidents are eligible.

VA-resident non-clergy can sign up for a one-time permit to celebrate a wedding. Apply in person at the Clerk's office of any Circuit Court.

Official Information:
Wise County Circuit Court


Virgin Islands
Clergymen or ministers of any religion, whether they reside in the Virgin Islands or elsewhere in the United States may perform marriages. ---Ministers must complete the marriage license and return it to the clerk of the municipal court which issued the license within 10 days after the marriage is performed. --- For questions see the clerk of the municipal court.

Washington
Regularly licensed or ordained ministers or any priest of any church or religious denomination anywhere within the state may perform marriages.--- Ministers must send two certificates of marriage to the county auditor within 30 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the county auditor.

West Virginia
New Law Passed in 2002!

The West Virginia Legislature adopted S. B. 59, establishing new provisions for the registration of religious representatives to be authorized to perform marriages in any county in West Virginia.
The provisions replace previous requirements for registration with the county clerk, however approval of the bond or exemption from the bonding requirement was left with the county commission.

Requirements for Registration

1. Proof of Age The registrant must be 18 years of age or older, and may show proof using a birth certificate, driver license, passport or military ID.
2. Proof of Authority The registrant must be: duly authorized to perform marriages by his or her church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization; and in regular communion with that group of which he or she is a member.
3. Bond The bonding requirement is waived if the registrant gives proof before the county commission of his or her ordination or similar formal authorization by the religious organization.

A bond of $1,500 with surety approved by the county commission, is required if the formal ordination or similar authorization is not provided. A letter from the members of a single congregation unaffiliated with a recognized religious body is not considered proof sufficient to be exempt from the bonding requirement.

Registry The Secretary of State will establish a registry of all persons authorized to perform marriages.

The law requires county clerks in the 55 counties to forward to the Secretary of State by October 1, 2001, the name of every person authorized since 1960 to perform marriages for inclusion in the registry. The Secretary of State must then forward the completed registry and periodic updates back to the county clerks.

Official Information:
West Virgina Secretary of State Website


Wisconsin
Any ordained clergyman of any religious denomination or society may perform marriages. --

-Before performing marriages, ministers must file their credentials of ordination with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which their church is located. The clerk will give the minister a certificate. --- Ministers must complete the marriage certificates and give one to the bride and one to the groom. The original must be returned to the register of deed's of the county in which the marriage was performed or if performed in a city, to the city health officer. This must be done within 3 days after the marriage. --- For questions see the clerk of the circuit court.

Wyoming
Every licensed or ordained minister of the gospel may perform marriages. --- Ministers must give a marriage certificate to the bride and groom upon request and must return a certificate to the county clerk. -- - For questions see the county clerk.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #30
45. Thank you for a fact-based post.
I worked for a church. Two ministers, maybe 500 members scattered in 15+ congregations in about as many states--a majority of congregations consisting of 5-10 people, two with over 35 members, and many with 2-3 members. Not just a lot of marriages for the 10 years I worked for the church. And the marriages I sort of saw the preparations for (I was staff, not minister) were scattered about--now Maryland, now Texas, now Oregon or Washington or California or Tennessee.

The church didn't require, and only marginally encouraged, church marriages. It merely required some culturally recognized procedure so that a couple would be considered married. Each and every time a member called for a minister to officiate, the minister groaned. He'd start phoning around to find out what the requirements were for that state. He'd almost always have to file paperwork of some sort, sometimes registering the church in the state in question (we were HQed in one state, not in all 50). Pain in the ass. Not a large pain, but a pain. In one case he couldn't finish the paperwork in time; the couple went to the JP.
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Yavin4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:32 PM
Response to Original message
41. Here's The Real Reason Why Gay Marriage Is Illegal
It's illegal because the ruling Republican party, whose real agenda only benefits the rich and the powerful, need an issue to get working class and middle class people to vote for them. So, by pandering to their religious beliefs with misinformation and propaganda and needling their homophobia, the Republican party can easily win a signficant portion of the poor and working class votes without really doing anything that will actually benefit their lives, such as raising the min. wage, education spending, or better healthcare.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #41
77. Exactly. Thank you.
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porphyrian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
48. Special interests, career politicians and apathetic voters? - n/t
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Dob Bole Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 01:52 PM
Response to Original message
50. Why are gay church marriages not legal? And why are marriages legal at all?
As I posted above, same-sex marriages performed by a church are still marriages, but not legal. On the other hand, I've been married for 3 months and do not even care where my marriage license is. The covenant aspect of the marriage is more important to me than the fact that it's legal.

So I guess I'm taking the libertarian position on this one. Liberals say that gay marriages should be legal, because this would promote equality. Conservatives say that they should be illegal, because they will cause the destruction of Western society. I say: Why does the government even have any part in this at all?
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #50
78. YES!!!! I've been saying this for years!!!
Marriage is about relationship--not social security benefits!

Thank you! :applause: :applause:
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
57. A church wedding is not legal without a marriage license
granted by the state.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #57
65. but that licensed must be certified by an officiant
and those that can qualify as officiants are members of the clergy.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #65
74. Among others. n/t
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #57
80. Define "legal"
It's perfectly legal to perform a wedding without a license. No law against that. That marriage wouldn't carry state-sanctioned benefits, but it's legal to do such a wedding. I know. I've done 'em. Two gay weddings, and two straight ones where the couples showed up with licenses from the wrong county. I couldn't sign those licenses, but I didn't cancel the ceremony. Just told 'em they'd need to either bring me the right license later, or go to a judge in the county where they'd gotten the license.

I did the weddings, wished 'em well, and watched 'em leave on their honeymoons, with nary a consideration that they weren't married...because they were.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #80
83. Right, I was thinking of the state legality
with all the legal benefits of marriage.
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:08 PM
Response to Original message
59. This is silly
I would bet that most of the gay marriages in Mass were done by clergy. The fact that clergy can legally officiate a marriage has ZERO to do with whether or not one has the right to marry. Making everyone go through two seperate ceremonies will not do anything to advance gay marriage cause.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #59
66. Who said you have to MAKE anyone go through two ceremonies?
Edited on Mon Oct-23-06 02:27 PM by demwing
Those who which to have a church ceremony can do so, or not.

But for legal issues, I say a clergy should not be qualified to officiate. And, for civil unions, there should be no disqualification over gender.

If two men can go into business together, legally, then they should be legally able to enter a civil union as well.

The interference against same sex marriage is a religious one, and we enable that religious interference by allowing religious figures to certify marriage licenses.
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #66
71. Most people want church ceremonies
Even if just for the sake of tradition. Changing that based on the gay marriage premise would do nothing but turn people away from it even more. I would bet most gay marriages are performed by clergy. I know the ceremonies I went to before it was legal were all done by ministers. No one forces people to get married by clergy. It is completely optional.

The way to change the legallity of gay marriage is through the courts and not through the churches. Once it is changed in the courts and people see the sky isn't falling they start to change their thinking.

Here in Mass it becoming more accepted by the populous every year.
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calico1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:11 PM
Response to Original message
61. In the Catholic church you have to get a marriage
license first to get married in the church. And blood tests, etc. just like everyone else. A priest will not perform a marriage ceremony on a couple without a marriage license, at least not that I have ever heard of.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #61
64. Legally he could.
Me, I'd do it, as long as the couple understood it wasn't a legal marriage. Legal issues aren't my business, religious ones are. I'd do a gay wedding in New York minute--and will be doing my second one in February. No license, but they'll consider themselves married. So will I. So will my church.
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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #64
67. But not the state
and thats the issue. Dependant benefits, etc.

If you are brought a marriage license by a couple, perform the ceremony, but sit on the license, or don't complete the paperwork and return it, will the marriage be valid?
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:45 PM
Response to Reply #67
75. Not to the state, but that's not my concern
as I said elsewhere, I'd like to be able to marry without the state interfering. I want my marriage to be recognized by my religious community, and to build a family. But I'm not concerned about the legalities.

It would be legal to officiate at such a marriage--that is, there's no law against is, because it is a religious rite. The state wouldn't recognize it as a "legal" marriage, but it's legal to hold the ceremony.

More specific to your question, the marriage certificate must be returned within a stipulated number of days, to be filed with the county clerk. In Illinois, it's 30 days. In Iowa, it's 15. I once sent a license back and it got lost in the mail or something. It didn't get to the clerk's office on time, though I had mailed it the day after the ceremony. It was quite a hassle, I had to go to the clerk's office, file an affidavit saying I had done the wedding, et. Without all of that, the state would not have recognized the marriage. Happily, we jumped through all the hoops, and they filed the license.

Since then, I hand deliver them. But, again, I'd rather not be bothered.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:32 PM
Response to Original message
68. My guess would be that what starts as custom, becomes law
Even the remotest areas had preachers (way back when), and a circuit judge might have made very few visits to each community, and there was no way to predict when he would arrive..

perhaps ministers (as up-standing trustworthy types) were given the authority to conduct legal marriages because they were in every community?

just a guess..

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demwing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #68
70. I agree. And that would have worked fine in the 15th century
but we need a better method today, and we can easily have one. We don't need to create anything, just eliminate the church from all aspects of the legal process.
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
79. You make an extremely salient point.
Why is it accepted that religious leaders may act as JPs, officiating and essentially creating a marriage that is recognized by the state? How is that not a violation of the separation of church and state?

Don't misconstrue this; I am NOT speaking of disallowing religious ceremonies. If churches or whatever want to marry people, fine. It's not necessary that the religious ceremony reflect the civil arrangement, as they are not supposed to be connected.

Yet allowing religious leaders to act in official government capacity as JPs seems to me to be both a direct intermingling of church and state and the governmental endorsement of religiously-fostered partnerships.

Again, how is this not a violation of church and state?

Great post - I'd not asked this question before, and it's one worth considering!

(And let's see some more recommends, people, this is a good thread!)

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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:06 PM
Response to Original message
81. America is okay with cults, but iffy when it comes to "lifestyles."
Join a cult, go ahead. Eat a wafer and pretend it's the body of your lord (huh?). Splash water on babies, and wave incense burners around and speak in archaic languages and beleive there's a floating ghost awaiting you're arrival in the sky.

But love another human being unconditionally? What are you man, DAFT?

.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #81
82. Where do people get the silly notion that Democrats are hostile to religion? nt
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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #82
84. Nice try.
Democrats, at least this one, are hostile to the silly notion of religion in government. But as long as there are plenty Lieberman-style "bipartisans," to whom "bipartisan" means accepting anything the right-wing says, then I guess we'll have disagreements on this one. I am a free-thinking human being before I am a democrat. As such, I am hostile to fantasy as government policy. Sorry if it twists your knickers.

.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:39 PM
Response to Reply #84
85. No, you demonstrated hostility to religious belief.
You have every right to believe marriage should be a state function and not a religious one. I have no argument with you there. But your post went beyond that, to insulting people of faith. There are such people here at DU, and they/we are deserving of respect.

We'll keep losing elections, as long as Dems keep insulting religious believers. But at least we'll get to feel all smug and superior. And that's just as good as taking back Congress. Right?
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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #85
86. Someone yelling "I deserve your respect" rarely does.
I'd respect you a whole lot more if you didn't demand I respect you just because you believe something I don't.

.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #86
87. I didn't demand anything
I just pointed out that this bullshit doesn't help the party. I thought winning elections was the point. And I accept the fact that you will never respect me. I believe in ghosts and sprinkling water on babies and whatever else it was that you used to insult my faith.
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nini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 01:36 PM
Response to Original message
90. no marriage is legal unless the officiator is licensed.. and..
the couple has a valid marriage license. Where the vows occur has nothing to do with it.

The fact the 'ceremony' takes place in a church with the religious twist does not nullify the legal part of it.
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