Oregon Bill Allowing Secular Celebrants to Solemnize Marriages Passes Through House Rules Committee May 14, 2015

Oregon Bill Allowing Secular Celebrants to Solemnize Marriages Passes Through House Rules Committee

Oregon is currently one of those states that doesn’t allow atheists to solemnize marriages. Religious clergy or county clerks can do it, but not certified Secular Celebrants.

But legislators may soon fix that.

House Bill 3483, which was introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick and just passed through the Rules Committee yesterday, would amend existing law to allow a non-religious alternative.

The boldfaced section below is what would be added to existing legislation:

(2) Marriages may be solemnized by:

(a) A judicial officer;
(b) A county clerk;
(c) Religious congregations or organizations as indicated in ORS 106.150 (2); [or]
(d) A clergyperson of any religious congregation or organization who is authorized by the congregation or organization to solemnize marriages;
(e) Secular organizations as indicated in ORS 106.150 (2);
(f) A celebrant or officiant of any secular organization described in paragraph (e) of this subsection who is authorized by the secular organization to solemnize marriages; or
(g) A member of the Legislative Assembly or a former member of the Legislative Assembly.

Brian Harvey, executive director of the Center For Inquiry-Portland, testified in favor of this bill earlier in the year and had this to say:

The people of Oregon who are living fulfilling, ethical lives without religion deserve the same rights as those who are religious,” said [Harvey]. “This includes the right to have their marriages solemnized by someone who shares their life stance. No one would deny a religious couple’s right to be married by a representative of their worldview, and we who hold dear the principles of science and reason ask for nothing more and nothing less.

Added Harvey, “For the nonreligious citizens of Oregon, and for people of all persuasions who believe in equal treatment under the law, we urge the House to pass this bill.”

There’s really no good reason to oppose this bill — though it only passed through the Rules Committee on a close 5-3 vote, entirely down party lines (one Republican was excused from the vote, but expressed opposition to it). But Democrats make up the majority of the House and Senate and the Governor is also blue, so this bill should hopefully skate through and become a law soon enough.

(via Center For Inquiry. Image via Shutterstock. A correction was made about how the Committee voted for the bill.)


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