Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Indiana's Marriage Solemnization Statute Shows Clergy Preference
Statue held as unconstitutional due to preference of clergy over secular leaders.
Indiana
State:
Categories:
Key point 3-04. All states permit clergy to perform marriage ceremonies. However, some states permit only "ordained" or some other classification of clergy to perform marriage ceremonies. It is important for clergy to determine if they are legally authorized to perform marriages under applicable state law. In addition, clergy must be aware of the legal qualifications for marriage and any license and reporting requirements prescribed by state law.

A federal appeals court ruled that Indiana's marriage solemnization statute was an unconstitutional preference for clergy over secular leaders. Indiana Code § 31-11-6-1 specifies who may solemnize a marriage. The list includes religious officials designated by religious groups but omits equivalent officials of secular groups, such as humanist societies:

Marriages may be solemnized by any of the following:
  1. A member of the clergy of a religious organization (even if the cleric does not perform religious functions for an individual congregation), such as a minister of the gospel, a priest, a bishop, an archbishop, or a rabbi.
  2. A judge.
  3. A mayor, within the mayor's county.
  4. A clerk or a clerk-treasurer of a city or town, within a county in which the city or town is located.
  5. A clerk of the circuit court.
  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.

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Posted: October 28, 2014
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