Alabama takes the lead:
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, unanimously passed an important Senate committee last week.
Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette) filed Senate Bill 20 (SB20) earlier this 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“All requirements to obtain a marriage license by the State of Alabama are hereby abolished and repealed.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 Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB20 9-0 on Feb. 23.
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.
This is an excellent policy, and one which I have advocated since my WND days. The state does not define marriage. The state cannot define marriage. The state has never defined marriage; it is an institution that long precedes the state.
The state has the right to create whatever legal contractual relationships between whatever parties it likes, but those relationships are not marriage. The Alabama bill would clarify that, and would have the benefit of removing those whose marriages are religious in nature from the predations of the state’s divorce courts.
If conservatives want to save marriage, then this is a policy they should take to the national level.