Who wants to wait to get married?

Who wants to wait to get married? July 12, 2011

In New York, it seems, no one.

With the law changing on same sex marriage, people are looking again at the rules requiring a waiting period for getting married.  Some are even trying to have the waiting period waived.

From the New York Times:

The year was 1936, and Jane H. Todd, a state assemblywoman from Westchester County, went to Albany with a warning: the institution of marriage was under siege.

Too many frivolous youngsters were falling in love and eloping on a whim, only to have their marriages end in divorce. These “gin weddings,” as Ms. Todd called them, had to stop.

After two years of lobbying, Ms. Todd, a Republican, persuaded her fellow legislators to enact a law mandating a three-day waiting period between receiving a marriage license and being wed.

The law, and others like it around the country, became so notorious that in 1945 Hollywood made a film, “The Clock,” starring Judy Garland, about a young soldier who falls in love during a two-day leave in New York and tries to find a judge to waive the waiting period so he can marry.

Today, New York’s waiting period, which has been shortened to 24 hours, is back in the limelight because of the legalization of same-sex marriage. Many gay couples want to get married on the first possible day, July 24, and they are now scrambling — in many cases with the help of municipal officials — to find judges who will waive the waiting period.

“We think of Hollywood movies about changes of mind at the altar, but these are couples that have been together for many, many years and have been waiting impatiently to tie the knot,” said Susan Sommer, the director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, an organization that advocates for equal rights for gay people. “They certainly have had a long time to get to know each other.”

New York is one of about two dozen states that require a waiting period for marriages. Over the past seven decades, the waiting period has been changed at least eight times, with legislators altering its length to reflect changing mores and, during some periods, to require blood tests because of concerns about sexually and genetically transmitted diseases.

But historians say the underlying motivation for waiting periods can be traced back centuries.

In colonial New England, and before that in Europe, couples were required to announce their impending nuptials so that anyone with objections could come forward. That practice gave rise to the marriage license, which allowed authorities to ensure that people about to wed were of the proper age and not already married.

In an effort to prevent rushes to the altar, American states began to impose waiting periods in the early 20th century.

“Marriage should be something more than a hit-or-miss proposition, and should only be entered into after careful consideration,” Ms. Todd said when she began her lobbying effort in New York.

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9 responses to “Who wants to wait to get married?”

  1. I see your point, and societies point in waiting for marriage. I think gay marriage is largely a protection of the partners rights which could be made by creating a legal partnership, i.e., owning property jointly, which would protect one partner from the other one dying and that person’s family coming in and putting the living partner on the street without access to their bank account, their house, etc..

    A waiting period for marriage is a good idea. There are so reasons for this that I can’t think of one against it. There are such things as forced marriage, and waiting gives the reluctant person a chance to either say no, or to seek help if they are being forced. Good post, Deacon.

  2. Speaking solely of marriage as a legal contract, most gay couples I know are not jumping blithely into marriage. Most have been together for eons and all of the couples who have been together have shown an extraordinary amount of commitment to each other through the reams of paperwork they have had to complete and file to protect each others interests such as power of attorney, health care proxies, incredibly detailed wills and so on just to have the protections a straight couple can have just by saying “I do”. The filing of all those documents is such a monumental effort, with such variable outcomes (wills can be challenged) that it reminds me of the literacy tests imposed on black voters in the south.
    My question is why would anyone care if a gay couple who has been together for twenty five years seeks a waiver? I mean why is this even newsworthy, except that the government is saying “you have already been through undue hardship,
    You have demonstrated your commitment, we’re not going to make you jump through a non sensical legal hoop which doesn’t in any way promote the common good”.
    Something tells me the waiver is a one shot deal and just for July 24th, and where granted, will be a kind and decent acknowledgement of an already established, committed relationship.
    From a purely secular and legal standpoint, the waivers aren’t an issue except that they are an acknowledgment of existing, proven stability.

  3. If you can’t wait three days to get married, you need to sit in an ice cold bath tub. Now that the Libs have gotten into the swing of changing the definition of marriage, just you wait for all the other changes that are coming. Marriage will not be recognizable. Actually, Cuomo already did that.

  4. Gerald you are totally right.

    It’s a novelty, in a few months and years the flood of gay divorces will start. I know am gonna get clovered here, but gay unions are notoriously promiscuous. But hey, we can define marriage to be between as many people as we like, no? Why not define marriage as a fun rump under the covers that lasts until the arousal is over?

  5. The breathless exuberance of so-called news reports on the couples whose partnerships are to be validated by the NY legislation stands in sharp contrast to the reality of typical same-sex relationships, a reality vividly described in this first-hand account:


    The disparity would seem merely ironic or perhaps even silly if it were not for the great harm this social experiment will do to innocent children, particularly those forever denied even the semblance of natural parenting.

  6. LOL. No, more like my incompetence as a non-native English speaker. It does work either way though.

  7. So, go get your license now- you’ve got 12 days ’til the 24th.
    Silly story about a non-issue, to keep the real issue- homosexual marriage- in the news.

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