City Council Member in Washington D.C. Proposes Bill to Allow Atheists to Officiate Weddings

If you and your atheist partner want to get married in Washington, D.C. your wedding would have to be officiated by either a religious figure or a government official.

The application requires the parties to identify the name of the officiant who will perform the marriage ceremony. The officiant is any District of Columbia Judge or anyone who is authorized by a religious organization to officiate marriages, such as a minister, priest, rabbi or imam, so long as he or she is registered with the Marriage Bureau to officiate marriages.

What about a Humanist or Secular Celebrant? It wouldn’t count. They’re not on The List.

But that could soon change thanks to City Council member (and possible candidate for Mayor) Tommy Wells:

Tommy Wells (via The Washington Post)

… Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) introduced a bill that would make it easier for couples to call upon any officiant they want for their weddings. The bill would create a one-day officiant permit that would allow the holder to solemnize a wedding without having to prove any religious affiliation.

At any level of government, there are some bills that need to be debated and discussed at length… and then there are bills like this that should be approved without hesitation.

But I’d request one change: Get rid of the one-day permit and just let licensed Humanist/Secular celebrants perform weddings without jumping through hoops for every couple.

Incidentally, The Center For Inquiry sued the state of Indiana over this very issue — allowing Secular Celebrants to officiate weddings — and their lawsuit was thrown out. If only that state had a legislator like Tommy Wells to propose a change to the law.

(Thanks to Rob for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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