The Electric Commentary

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are My Friends Married: Update

If you have read this blog for awhile, you may remember the story of my friends Jay and Jen, who were married by their uncle, a minister who was ordained over the internet. Their marriage was put into legal limbo by a stupid Pennsylvania law (and an even worse court ruling) that requires your church to have a brick-and-mortar facility in the state. For a recap, click here.

Jay and Jen are not taking this lying down, and with the help of the ACLU they're taking their case to court:

The ACLU filed the first three lawsuits in a planned statewide effort to address what they contend is a flaw in the state marriage law.

"What we want is to fix a problem that never should have existed in the first place," ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said. "The state has no business invalidating marriages just because it doesn?t like the kind of minister who officiated them."

The couples in the three ACLU lawsuits - including the O'Neills, who filed in Bucks County, are seeking judicial declarations that their marriages are valid under state law.

"For a judge to retroactively decide ... that our marriage is no longer valid seems unfair and hurtful for both of us," said Ryan Hancock, who was married to his wife, Melanie, in 2005 by a friend who was a Universal Life Church minister.

I wish Jay and Jen the best of luck in this case. The state has no business telling its citizens what is and is not a legitimate church. Think about all of the problems something like this could cause. Most of your major purchases after you are married are performed as a couple. You buy a house together, insurance together, and you might have a will which refers to your "wife" or "husband." Declaring that a group of people are not married after the fact throws all of these major transactions into a gray area. Taking care of the problem is stressful, and expensive.

If they eventually triumph in their case, it will not just be a victory for them. They will also be performing a public service.

Good luck, Jay and Jen.


  • Another good reason why marriage should not be a legal status, just a religious one.

    By Blogger mattress, at 8:46 AM  

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