Last month, Minnesota State Representative Phyllis Kahn introduced a bill (HF 2966) that would allow atheists and Humanists to officiate wedding ceremonies, something currently reserved only for religious leaders:
Civil marriages may be solemnized by atheist or humanist celebrants who have been appointed by the boards of directors of self-identified atheist or humanist organizations that sponsor training for such individuals. An atheist or humanist group appointing such celebrant must be registered as a nonprofit with the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State and must have tax-exempt status as an educational organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
This week, State Senator John Marty introduced an identical bill (SF 2958) in the Senate. (Both Kahn and Marty are members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.)
The bill’s language was drafted and lobbied for by the Minnesota Atheists, showing how one group can lead the way to serious change. It’s strange that they even need to do this but we’ve seen similar battles successfully fought in New Jersey and Washington D.C. (though not Indiana, where Secular Celebrants still have no legal powers).
There’s no good reason to oppose this bill, though I don’t put it past some legislators… Either way, Minnesota Atheists deserves a lot of credit if and when this passes.