CFI Submits Testimony on DC Marriage Officiant Act

October 15, 2010

Yesterday, CFI DC Executive Director Melody Hensley presented testimony on behalf of the Center for Inquiry in favor of the Marriage Officiant Act of 2010, a city council act that would allow secular wedding officiants to perform marriages in Washington, DC as public notaries.  Friend of the Center and CFI DC/Office of Public Policy volunteer Steve Lowe also presented testimony in his personal capacity as a resident of the District.

CFI has long supported providing secular marriage officiants to those who elect to use their services.  CFI’s    Secular Celebrants program  supplies nonreligious celebrants to conduct wedding ceremonies and other “life milestone” ceremonies.  Unfortunately, in many jurisdictions CFI’s secular celebrants are unfairly barred by law from officially performing marriages because they are not affiliated with a religious institution.  The Marriage Officiant Act of 2010 would change this state of affairs within Washington, DC by allowing secular celebrants to perform marriages as notaries.

A copy of Ms. Hensley’s testimony appears below.

  Although CFI readily supplies secular celebrants to conduct wedding ceremonies for non-religious couples, in many jurisdictions CFI’s secular celebrants are barred by law from officially performing marriages. CFI’s secular celebrants are not religious clergy. Nor are they court officials. As such, the current law prevents them from officially performing marriages within the District of Columbia. Short of becoming judges or justices, CFI’s secular celebrants have no means of becoming certified to officially perform marriages within the District.

  The Marriage Officiant Act would change this unfortunate state of affairs. By allowing secular celebrants to perform marriages as public notaries, the Act would help the Center for Inquiry’s and other secular celebrant programs to better serve the needs of the non-religious community.   
 
  CFI maintains that both religious individuals and members of the non-religious community should be able to mark life’s milestones in ways that are most personally meaningful to them. By allowing secular notaries public to perform marriages within the District, the Act will help ensure that all couples, both religious and secular, can be married by an officiant of their choosing.

  The Center for Inquiry thanks the Council for considering this legislation, and urges the Council to pass the Marriage Officiant Act of 2010.

  Thank you. 

Originally Posted on    Freethinking , by Derek C. Araujo