In a case virtually identical to the case I am a plaintiff in here in Michigan, the Center for Inquiry has filed a suit against the state of Texas demanding that secular celebrants be allowed to solemnize marriages without having to pretend to be religious. It’s long pas time for the religious monopoly on officiating weddings to end.
“A religious couple can have their weddings officiated and solemnized by a representative of their faith, someone who shares their beliefs and values, as well they should,” said Nicholas Little, CFI’s Vice President and Legal Counsel. “Why deny this same basic right to the religiously unaffiliated, who make up almost one fifth of Texas’ population?”
The Center for Inquiry won a landmark victory in federal court in 2014 when challenging a similar law in Indiana, followed by another win in Illinois in 2017. CFI also laid the groundwork for Secular Celebrant legislation enacted in Oregon last year, and is working with lawmakers in Ohio on a similar bill. Earlier this year, CFI filed suit in federal court in Michigan challenging similar marriage laws there.
“It’s not enough to tell secular couples to settle for officiation by a judge that’s been assigned to them, or by someone who has been ‘ordained’ by some mail-order church,” said Little. “As Judge Easterbrook wisely pointed out in his historic decision on Indiana’s marriage law, those with a secular lifestance must not feel compelled to playact religious belief in order to have a meaningful marriage ceremony.”
Quite right. And the thing is, on what possible legitimate grounds could someone oppose this? The opposition comes from the Christian right, but why? It doesn’t affect them in any way whatsoever. It doesn’t say pastors can’t solemnize marriages, it just says others can do so as well for people who aren’t going to go to pastors in the first place. It changes absolutely nothing for them. Opposition to it is nothing more than bigotry and privilege, wanting to maintain their hegemony over the culture. And that is not a valid legal argument.