14 July 2014

7th Circuit Rules That Humanist Officiants Can Solemnize Marriages

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an Indiana law prohibiting secular humanist officiants from solemnizing marriages, while allowing clergy, and in certain faiths, non-clergy, as well as mayors and other government officials, but not notaries of non-religious cultural marriage officiants or the couple themselves, to solemnize marriages violates the First Amendment establishment clause.

As a remedy, the 7th Circuit ordered that secular humanist officiants be allowed to solemnize marriages. The opinion by Judge Easterbrook is eminently presaged by other precedents, but is a step forward for non-theists of all stripes who have organized cultural institutions.  It would have been easy to rule that the fact that there were secular options was good enough, but Judge Easterbrook's opinion makes clear that this was not sufficient.

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