Senate Bill Would Replace Marriage Licenses With Contracts in Alabama

Gavel on Social Security IDThere has been quite a bit of controversy in Alabama regarding marriage licenses lately, ever since a state ban against same-sex marriage was overturned in February. Yet the Alabama Supreme Court told probate judges in March to continue following state law until the federal Supreme Court resolves the issue this summer.

Alabama Sen. Greg Albritton has come up with a unique solution to the confusion: doing away with marriage licenses altogether in the state. He’s the sponsor of Senate Bill 377, which received approval from the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee April 29 and would replace the requirement to get a marriage license from a probate judge with a simple legal contract.

The contract could be witnessed by a clergy member, attorney or notary public, and would then need to be filed with the state. A wedding ceremony of any kind would not be required.

Albritton maintains that although he’s a “traditionalist” when it comes to marriage, the bill is not intended to either support or inhibit same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court’s ruling on state-level same-sex marriage bans would apply regardless, and current requirements governing age of consent and related issues would remain intact. The bill would simply reduce the role of the government in mediating marriage altogether, he says, and therefore make it easier for residents.

“The purpose of Senate Bill 377 is to bring order out of chaos,” Albritton was quoted as saying by April 29.

There are about 2.5 million weddings performed in the United States each year, and all states require that couples obtain a marriage license beforehand. However, the details associated with getting those licenses (blood tests, waiting periods, etc.) vary widely from state to state.

A public hearing had been scheduled for the Alabama bill April 29, but was canceled because no opponents decided to speak. It is now eligible for discussion on the senate floor.


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