• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Wedding bell blues

I must have outrage burnout, because here's a controversy I just can't seem to get worked up over:

A secular group has filed a federal lawsuit claiming Indiana's marriage law is unconstitutional because it doesn't allow people without religious or civic authority to perform marriages.

Coincidentally, the suit was filed Wednesday, the same day President Barack Obama said he supports gay marriage. But the suit focuses on those who officiate marriage ceremonies, not on the people getting married.

The Center for Inquiry, a national group that promotes science over religion but encourages people to live by the same values that many religions teach, trains people to marry couples in ceremonies that follow the center's beliefs, according to the suit. However, the Amherst, N.Y.-based center, which has a branch in Indiana, claims that because of the way the state law is written, people from secular groups cannot perform marriage ceremonies.

I checked out the marriage laws in other states, and they're all pretty similar. Only a few go beyond the clergy and public officials. California, for example, lets anyone apply to become a temporary (one-day) Deputy Commissioner of Marriages.

Since "marriage" is a contract officially recognized by the state, it seems like simple common sense that the state would want to define who can perform the ceremony. On the other hand, what possible difference can it make whether the ceremony is performed by a minister, the justice of the peace or the kid with acne serving you fries? The only important thing is the contract, represented by the marriage license. It doesn't even matter what's said during the ceremony. When I got married, it was by a Catholic priest, because he was a friend, not because either my wife or I were Catholic, and we made up our own vows, being good and earnest hippie types.

But, really, who cares? If this is all we have for a "constitutional crisis" these days, the ACLU can just close up shop and go home.