Court Knocks Down Church Weddings
A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT today ruled today that state recognition of clergy-officiated marriages is unconstitutional.
In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, said the use of religious officials to perform a civil function violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state.
“A wedding performed by a religious officiant constitutes state recognition of a religious ceremony, which is in direct contravention of the Establishment Clause.Ã¢€ Judge Albert P. Goodman wrote for the three-judge panel.
The effect of the court’s decision is not immediate. The government will have several months to ask the court to reconsider its decision, or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The decision stunned lawmakers. Within hours, the Senate approved 99-0 a resolution in support of marriage. Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., campaigning in Florida, released a statement expressing Ã¢€œdisappointmentÃ¢€ with the courtÃ¢€™s decision. Lawmakers also instructed their legal counsel to intervene and defend the validity of religious weddings.
In its ruling, the court said that clergy can continue to perform religious wedding ceremonies, but that those marriages would not be recognized as legally binding without a separate, civil ceremony. It was unclear what the minimum requirements for such a ceremony would be, but signing a marriage license was Ã¢€œnot sufficient to solemnize a civil marriage,Ã¢€ according to the majority opinion.
The above is a satire by Citizen Smash. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see such a ruling in the near term.