Michigan Wingnut Wants Only Clergy to Perform Weddings

Last fall two extremely far-right Tea Party types got elected to the Michigan legislature, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. Courser is now proposing three bills that would essentially eliminate the possibility of having a non-religious wedding ceremony.

State Rep. Todd Courser today introduced legislation that ends government involvement in performing wedding ceremonies and puts that responsibility in the hands of religious leaders.

Rep. Courser, R-Lapeer, introduced House Bills 4731, 4732 and 4733, which place the officiating of marriages back in the realm of churches.

“In anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, I believe the timing is right for this legislation. These bills take our public officials on all levels out of the equation and frees them from sanctioning marriages that go against their beliefs,” Rep. Courser said. “I stand wholeheartedly and unequivocally for traditional marriage, and feel the definition of marriage should not be within the realm of the federal government. The contract that has been in place for thousands of years is between a man and his wife on one side and God on the other side.”

Under the legislation, the licensing components of marriage would remain a government responsibility, but municipal and judicial officials would no longer have the ability to perform wedding ceremonies. The bills protect public officials from being forced to perform same-sex marriages.

“These various entries into marriage by government inserted the secular power of the state into a spot it was never intended to be by our Founding Fathers,” Rep. Courser said. “This legislation will strengthen the concept of religious freedom and liberty upon which America was built.”

There’s really no point in asking him about the rights of the non-religious to have a wedding presided over by someone who isn’t clergy; in his mind, we don’t exist, and if we do we don’t matter. Courser is a genuine theocrat and I have no doubt this is just one of innumerable bills he will submit that will make me facepalm.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • wreck

    The Stooopid! It burns!!!

  • dannorth

    What will he say when the Church of Satan or Wiccans start performing same sex mariages, or worse liberal christian churches?

  • StevoR

    Michigan Wingnut Wants Only Clergy to Perform Weddings

    Fuck ‘im!

    Metaphorically speaking of course.

  • StevoR

    Fucken hell, was sure I’d put the ‘/’ before my blockquote tag there dammit! Obvs not.

  • colnago80

    If the couple is considered legally married once the marriage license is issued, then this is meaningless. On the other hand, if some sort of ceremony is required in addition to issuance of the marriage license, then this is completely unconstitutional, a violation of the separation of church and state and won’t last 5 minutes in a federal court.

  • Al Dente

    I suspect the laws would last about ten minutes after being brought before a judge.

  • raven

    What will he say when the Church of Satan or Wiccans start performing same sex mariages, or worse liberal christian churches?

    ?????

    They already have done that for years.

    Most Mainline Protestant sects support SSM, including Episcopalians, Presbyterians (USA), some Lutherans, Unitarians etc..

  • raven

    Completely meaningless requirement.

    1. There are large numbers of nonxian clergy in the USA and more can appear easily. Anyone can be legally ordained in one church or another online for a nominal sum.

    2. The State of Michigan has no business or right to determine who is a Real Hougan, Auger, Vestal Virgin, priestess, minister, etc. and what is a Real Religion.

    I’ve been to both Pagan and Buddhist weddings. They are IMO, a lot more fun then the average xian ones.

  • John Pieret

    I told everyone yesterday, after I had looked up their proposals, that they were doozies!

    As a practical matter, it could never work. There are enough clergy, quite beyond the internet kind and Wiccans and so forth, who will be willing to perform SSMs that they could not stop it. In fact, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see clergy who are opposed to SSM stepping up to fill the gaps … people of all beliefs and traditions know injustice when they see it. Any attempt to “tighten” the definition of clergy by these numbnutz will make its shelf life in Federal court even shorter than the nanosecond I predicted yesterday.

    Just for fun and with no endorsement of its truth or relevance, there is apparently a rumor that these two were caught in flagrante delicto by Gamrat’s husband in a no-tell-motel. It would just be another example of those willing to snoop into others’ bedrooms living in very glass-walled bedrooms of their own.

  • dan4

    Just for fun and with and with no endorsement of its truth or relevance, there is apparently a rumor that John Pieret likes to hurl racial epithets at African-Americans.

  • garnetstar

    raven @8, I agree about the Buddhist weddings! At one I went to, they had a Tibetan gong choir, a scroll wishing them happiness written and sent by the Dalai Lama, and Uma Thurman’s father officiating.

    Tibetan Buddhists do not have “marriage” as such, so no weddings: what they have is a good luck ceremony. So the person officiating had no legal power to marry the couple (even though he was Uma’s dad!). They had to be married by a judge.

  • Lithified Detritus

    I don’t know much about Cindy Gamrat (other than guilt by association), but Todd Courser is an over-the-top raving theocrat. This undoubtedly plays pretty well in his district, where you can hear the sound of machine-gun fire on a typical Sunday morning, as the faithful worship at the shooting range. Not kidding or exaggerating – it is the heart of Militiagan.

    Just for fun and with no endorsement of its truth or relevance, there is apparently a rumor that these two were caught in flagrante delicto by Gamrat’s husband in a no-tell-motel. It would just be another example of those willing to snoop into others’ bedrooms living in very glass-walled bedrooms of their own.

    I’ve encountered this rumor too. No idea if it’s true, but it would be awesome if it were.

  • John Pieret

    dan4:

    You can look the rumor about Courser and Gamrat online. Please point us to where it’s rumored John Pieret likes to hurl racial epithets at African-Americans.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I think this is a good thing. If only they can have the ceremonies, then they should be for paying the tax advantages of marriage. And, since marriage has always been a God thing, all current ones should be transferred over.

     

    John Pieret “in flagrante delicto”

    Harry Potter spell!

  • dan4

    @13: So if an evidence-free rumor DID exist that John PIeret likes to hurl racial epithets at African-Americans, you would find be cool with people mentioning it for kicks (“Just for fun…”) without regards for its truth or relevance? Yeah, sure you would.

  • dan4

    “…without regard…”

  • Zmidponk

    You know, if the Christians like Mr Courser want a special joining ceremony that only clergy can carry out, then I see no problem. It can even have all the trappings of a ‘marriage’, but, of course, as ‘marriage’ has already been established as the traditional legal name for this joining, it can’t actually be called ‘marriage’.

    How’s about calling it a ‘religious partnership’ instead?

  • John Pieret

    So if an evidence-free rumor DID exist that John PIeret likes to hurl racial epithets at African-Americans, you would find be cool with people mentioning it for kicks (“Just for fun…”) without regards for its truth or relevance?

    If I was a state legislator who was authoring a bill that made it a crime to hurl racial epithets … yeah, I’d be cool with it, because I had just put myself on the firing line. When you try to control other peoples’ lives, you damn well be sure your own life matches the standard you are pushing on everyone else!

  • dan4

    @18: “If I was a state legislator who was authoring a bill that made it a crime to hurl racial epithets…” That’s not analogous to the legislative proposal from Courser that led you to mention the rumor, since it didn’t involve a proposal to criminalize adultery.

  • colnago80
  • gshelley

    Does the bill limit the people performing to clergy?

    I don’t know the current law, but we had a totally secular wedding, and I have been to other secular ones in Michigan, though it may be that the person performing has to be ordained at least (even if only by the Universal Life Church)

    I don’t see how this would have affected my wedding, but there isn’t much information on the page.

    Will it also apply to issuing licences? What about the religious freedom of bigots to have nothing to do with any SSM at all?

  • whheydt

    It seems to me (and Mr. Pieret will probably post showing why I’m wrong) that, should this bill become law, it would *compel* clergy to perform any legal wedding because it would make them obligate state actors, there being no state official that could perform the ceremony. In that sense, the bill’s authors would be horrified at the consequences of it being enacted and signed.

    As several others have noted, there is no shortage of clergy willing to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies, so it’s hard to see what these yahoos are driving at. I mean…it *appears* that they think such a law would prevent same-sex marriages from being solemnized if required by SCOTUS, but we all know that that wouldn’t actually be the case.

  • John Pieret

    it didn’t involve a proposal to criminalize adultery

    Oh, please! Is that the best you can do? They are explicitly trying to control the sexual behaviors of others based on the Bible. Do I really have to look up the various quotes from the Bible about adultery? Sorry, pointing out the (even just possible) hypocrisy of politicians for further scrutiny is always appropriate. Glass houses and stones.

  • John Pieret

    whheydt @ 22:

    should this bill become law, it would *compel* clergy to perform any legal wedding because it would make them obligate state actors

    Heh! That is a very interesting argument. Either the state would have to do away with all non-religious benefits to marriage (tax breaks, automatic inheritance, etc,, etc,) or they have made all clergy agents of the state and subject to the 14th Amendment. It”s a position I would gleefully argue in any appellate brief!

  • frankgturner

    @ dan4 and John Pieret

    The court of public opinion often makes descisions bereft of evidence or even in spite of it. Many individuals are not skeptics who consider alternate ways of looking at things who leave their minds open to new ideas.

  • frankgturner

    Oh while I am at it, you have heard that expression before right? The “court of public opinion” I mean.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    Maybe it’s time to start buying them dictionaries with the “liberty” entry bookmarked and highlighted.

  • frankgturner

    @ Tabby Lavalamp

    It is a nice start but words have meaning by consensus. We give them meaning and even when there is a majority consensus, signicant voting blocks and specific groups can change meanings over time. Still, it is not a bad idea, just one that should be consideredwith a grain of salt.

  • Erp

    Michigan doesn’t check on who is a religious minister (Universal Life is fine and they don’t even have to register with the state). The people likely to be in a bind are those who want a purely civil ceremony (either because they are non-religious or because they are religious but with no nearby clergy [better to have a civil ceremony than one with the wrong religion]). I’m also not sure how Quakers are suppose to handle this (no clergy); a different section of Michigan’s code allows Quaker marriages but I’m not sure how that is suppose to interaction with the proposed revisions.

  • Die Anyway

    As a bit of a contrarian, I frequently hope that laws like this will be passed and that the supporters will be burned by some unintended consequence.

  • whheydt

    Re: Die Anyway @ #30…

    Well… Yeah… It’s often rather amusing to see the Law of Unintended Consequences in action. The problem, of course, is that there will likely be a lot of very un-funny collateral damage. It could take years for the courts to grind their way through to cleaning up the resulting mess.

    So, while I can see merit in your sentiment, on balance I think it’s better that this sort of bill die a messy and public death, but I’ll settle for a quiet burial if that’s what it takes.