Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Eliminate Marriage Licenses, Nullify Federal Control in Practice
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (March 8, 2017) – An Alabama bill that would abolish marriage licenses in the state, and effectively nullify in practice both major sides of the contentious national debate over government-sanctioned marriage, overwhelmingly passed the Senate yesterday.
Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette) filed Senate Bill 20 (SB20) last month. The legislation would abolish all requirements to obtain a marriage license in Alabama. Instead, probate judges would simply record civil contracts of marriage between two individuals based on signed affidavits.
“All requirements to obtain a marriage license by the State of Alabama are hereby abolished and repealed. The requirement of a ceremony of marriage to solemnized the marriage is abolished.”
The proposed law would maintain a few state requirements governing marriage. Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 would have to obtain parental permission before marrying, the state would not record a marriage if either party was already married, and the parties could not be related by blood or adoption as already stipulated in state law.
Civil or religious ceremonies would have no legal effect upon the validity of the marriage. The state would only recognize the legal contract signed by the two parties entering into the marriage.
“A civil and independent or religious ceremony of marriage, celebration of marriage, solemnization of marriage, or any other officiation, or administration of the vows of marriage may be conducted or engaged in by the parties by an officiant or other presiding person to be selected by the persons entering into the marriage. The state shall have no requirement for any such ceremony or proceeding which, if performed or not performed, will have no legal effect upon the validity of the marriage.”
In practice, the state’s role in marriage would be limited to recording marriages that have already occurred. As I pointed out in a recent appearance on the Mike Slater Show, under the proposed law, it would be much like buying a house. You don’t have to get a license to buy a house. You just record the deed once the transaction is complete.
The Alabama Senate passed a similar bill during the 2016 session, and a House committee approved it as well, but the full House did not take final action before the legislative session ended.