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The Mid-Michigan Atheists & Humanists Meetup Group Message Board › Michigan Wedding Officiant law

Michigan Wedding Officiant law

A former member
Post #: 14
As we discussed briefly at Sunday's meeting in regards to the CFI secular celebrant training. Current Michigan state law, as I understand it, does not allow secular celebrants to solemnize marriages... yet. This is an issue we're just beginning to address.

The law was just revised in March of 2008 to include the "cleric or religious practitioner" sections which it did not include before. Presumably, Michigan only legally recognized weddings performed by Christians before 2008, that's how behind we are here. A number of the civil servant classes were added in 2008 as well, making the law broader in a number of ways. However, if you read carefully, you'll see that a CFI trained secular celebrant has no authority here.


Revised Statutes of 1846 (EXCERPT)
Chapter 83. Of marriage and the solemnization thereof.



551.7 Persons authorized to solemnize marriage; records; returns; disposition of fees charged by mayor or county clerk.
Sec. 7.


(1) Marriages may be solemnized by any of the following:

(a) A judge of the district court, in the district in which the judge is serving.

(b) A district court magistrate, in the district in which the magistrate serves.

(c) A municipal judge, in the city in which the judge is serving or in a township over which a municipal court has jurisdiction under section 9928 of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.9928.

(d) A judge of probate, in the county or probate court district in which the judge is serving.

(e) A judge of a federal court.

(f) A mayor of a city, anywhere in a county in which that city is located.

(g) A county clerk in the county in which the clerk serves, or in another county with the written authorization of the clerk of the other county.

(h) For a county having more than 2,000,000 inhabitants, an employee of the county clerk's office designated by the county clerk, in the county in which the clerk serves.

(i) A minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner, anywhere in the state, if the minister or cleric or religious practitioner is ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination.

(j) A minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner, anywhere in the state, if the minister or cleric or religious practitioner is not a resident of this state but is authorized to solemnize marriages under the laws of the state in which the minister or cleric or religious practitioner resides.

(2) A person authorized by this act to solemnize a marriage shall keep proper records and make returns as required by section 4 of 1887 PA 128, MCL 551.104.

(3) If a mayor of a city solemnizes a marriage, the mayor shall charge and collect a fee to be determined by the council of that city, which shall be paid to the city treasurer and deposited in the general fund of the city at the end of the month.

(4) If the county clerk or, in a county having more than 2,000,000 inhabitants, an employee of the clerk's office designated by the county clerk solemnizes a marriage, the county clerk shall charge and collect a fee to be determined by the commissioners of the county in which the clerk serves. The fee shall be paid to the treasurer for the county in which the clerk serves and deposited in the general fund of that county at the end of the month.


Eric
user 8609921
Jackson, MI
Post #: 1
This is actually pretty common wording for these types of laws. There is someplace on the internet where you can pay a nominal fee and be officially "ordained." It really serves no other purpose than to serve as credentials for this very thing. There is no test or anything associated with it that I am aware of. You can find the site at http://www.universalm...­

Cheers,

Eric
Eric
user 8609921
Jackson, MI
Post #: 2
I stand corrected. The ordination is free.
mike
user 3802984
Lansing, MI
Post #: 7
Hello I would like to agree. I am a minister of the First Church of Atheism, and despite my intense scrutiny and investigation I am unable to find anyone to say that I couldn't officiate a marriage. I am waiting to hear from a County Clerk to verify if there are any legitimacy issues. Apparently there is no Conspiracy to commit marriage laws.

I am not advertising that I will perform a ceremony until I get official word on any potential problems. But if you would like google the First Church of Atheism and become ordained. It is absolutely free.
A former member
Post #: 9
All this discussion about who has the right to officiate a marriage seems to be missing the underlying issue. Specifically, marriage is a state-supported institution dictated by religious dogma that has become an unquestioned social edict. For a state to institutionalize and require marriage, no matter who officiates it, is yet another requirement that negates the separation of church and state. Notwithstanding the desire of a couple to be able to socially display their commitment to each other, who says it needs to take the form of an officiated marriage?

It seems to me that, to be a humanist/atheist/non-believer means shedding ALL the chains commensurate with believing. Perhaps the debate might center around WHY marriage is a requirement, rather than (or in addition to) WHO is allowed to officiate.
Jim H.
JHong
Group Organizer
Jackson, MI
Post #: 120
Hello I would like to agree. I am a minister of the First Church of Atheism, and despite my intense scrutiny and investigation I am unable to find anyone to say that I couldn't officiate a marriage. I am waiting to hear from a County Clerk to verify if there are any legitimacy issues. Apparently there is no Conspiracy to commit marriage laws.

I am not advertising that I will perform a ceremony until I get official word on any potential problems. But if you would like google the First Church of Atheism and become ordained. It is absolutely free.

Is this First Church of Atheism located in Lansing?
A former member
Post #: 15
Perhaps the debate might center around WHY marriage is a requirement, rather than (or in addition to) WHO is allowed to officiate.

Well, marriage is not a requirement, but married couples do receive more benefits than non-marrieds. The GLBT community is working on this side of the issue as well - forcing couples to register their relationship (of any type) with the state to achieve a higher status is a violation of our freedoms.

The fact is, most of the state approved officiants under the law are not religious at all but civil. Marriage is not "dictated by religious dogma" unless the couple chooses for it to be. It is instead, a state favored status for couples that excludes all persons who choose to live and love in relationships that are not exclusively "one man and one woman".
mike
user 3802984
Lansing, MI
Post #: 8
To my knowledge I don't believe there is a building or group that meets and calls themselves a church. I signed up to see what exactly there was to the process. Here is a link.

http://firstchurchofa...­
Jennifer B.
JenniferBeahan
Grand Rapids, MI
Post #: 13
Kya is correct under the current law CFI Celebrants are not legally allowed to solemnize weddings in Michigan.

Celebrants that are certified by the Humanist Society ARE allowed to officiate weddings because the Humanist Society is a religious organization in the Quaker tradition. http://humanist-socie...­

We were recently informed by a member when they asked if the Universal Life Church (ULC) at monestary.org officiants are recognized in MIchigan. The Kent County Clerk said that they are currently recognizing them but apparently they are considering disallowing this in the future - so just FYI.

Also - a bill was recently introduced to the State legislature that would add Notary Publics to the list of people allowed to solemnize weddings - so if that goes through that will basically remove the barrier for secular celebrants of any type to be able to solemnize weddings in Michigan ... you just have to become a Notary.
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