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Indiana's Marriage Solemnization Statute Shows Clergy Preference

Statue held as unconstitutional due to preference of clergy over secular leaders.

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:
A member of the clergy of a religious ...

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  • October 28, 2014