I’m not sure that’s terribly consequential. The list of people who may solemnize marriages is pretty long – practically any public official and practically any religious leader. Most people aren’t going to demand that their marriage be solemnized by anyone who objects to it anyhow. I would bet that none of these public officials were required to do this sort of thing in the first place, so they’ve probably always been at liberty to decline. And the provision applies to solemnization, not to grant of a marriage license, which is the only part where you actually need a government employee to do anything.
Now, I don’t like solemnization at all, as a marriage requirement. I was married, without license and without ceremony, in Pennsylvania back when that could be done (alas, no more!). And Tennessee also acknowledges that the tradition of the Quakers is sufficient, despite there being no official of the church who runs the show. It’s less clear whether someone who wasn’t a Quaker could avail himself of that option, but I suspect one could.
Yes. But I think that the law is already that anyone can refuse to solemnize any marriage.
Most states have a sort of dual-act system: you get a marriage license, but getting the license isn’t sufficient to marry. It has to be followed by some sort of ceremonial recognition of that marriage taking place, which of course traditionally arises from some religious practice, but which can also just be purely secular. So “solemnization” is that latter half.
And it is perfectly sensible that a priest, pastor, rabbi or other officiant whose primary job is leading a religious organization should not have to perform ceremonies that go against their religious beliefs. But if this law allows representatives of the state to refuse, that seems a different matter. Likely a moot point, however, in 2023 America. The idea that the state should not be permitted to endorse a religious position seems to be on its last legs.
When my son got married in Missouri, I solemnized it - which just.meant signing the marriage license - as an ordained clergyperson of some online “church’” I joined for free the day before. Sketchy, but perfectly legal in Missouri.
Is it me, or does the State appear to have more discretion over whether, and how, you are allowed to marry, than over whether, and how, you’re allowed to carry a deadly firearm, under the current judicial climate?
Did the Founding Fathers really consider the right to bear arms more fundamental than the right to marry?
I have, by the way, a Mormon brother who was very disappointed when not all of his siblings wanted him to officiate at their weddings. My wife and I married in secret, because, among other things, it seemed unkind to deprive the Mormons of the great pleasure they drew from their condemnation of us for living in sin.
Believe me, I’m about as hard-core a church/state separation advocate as they get. But I think that what you’re saying would be true only if the official in question had an official duty of solemnizing marriages. It seems clear from the statute that the power to solemnize marriages is exercised outside of one’s official duties – one is allowed, for example, to accept payments for the service and pocket those payments personally rather than pay them over to the public employer. So I would say that this is not really problematic. We’re not talking about denying a state service to people; we’re talking about individuals deciding not to render a service in their individual capacity. That their eligibility to render the service is conferred by their public-employee status is perhaps a teensy bit problematic, but the fact that one can, as @stlyankeefan indicates, obtain alternative credentials quickly and with no difficulty, makes that teensiness even teensier, in my mind.
I’m alarmed about the loss of the Lemon test. I’m alarmed by the Kennedy decision. But this seems to me like fretting over a raindrop when a hurricane is coming.
Fair enough. I included it as it seemed to me (a Canadian) that having zero limitations was insane as solemnization if required for marriage is then a public service (which you should absolutely not have the right to discriminate against protected classes regardless of the ease of other options).
You are right that the loss of the Lemon test and others are significantly more alarming. I am just frustrated on the silence of certain movements on this even though they clearly know it is not stopping with lgbtq+ persons (I mean repressing a group should be sufficient grounds to stop, but allowing equality is apparently equal to oppression).
What I find a bit odd is that so far as I can see in Tennessee’s marriage law, there’s no statutory option for a civil ceremony in court or anything of that sort. I certainly would agree that if there were such an option, allowing a judge whose duties included performance of those marriages to refuse to marry a couple due to his own objections would be a constitutional violation.