What's on the Line on
(besides choosing a President!)
Anti-gay marriage amendments.
Eleven states --
Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma
and Utah, plus Oregon, Mississippi and Montana -- have amendments on
the Nov. 2 ballot protecting "traditional marriage." However, the
amendments in the first eight of those states would go further,
outlawing legal rights for gays who are in civil unions or domestic
partnerships as well.
Vermont JPs are
In Vermont, where JPs
are elected every two years, the local municipality counts the JP
ballots and certifies the results. Get the results from the Town
Connecticut, the process is over. Next
stop: inauguration in January. A new Justice of the Peace manual will
be distributed then too.
The Latest from
Non-resident gay couples.
Massachusetts Supreme Court authorized marriage between gay
couples effective May 17, the state anticipated a deluge of
couples from other states where such marriage is not permitted. Up
to that point, there was no residency requirement for marrying in
Massachusetts, Gov. Romney nonetheless directed county clerks to
verify that gay couples are residents before issuing them a
license. To avoid the appearance of discrimination, clerks must
ask all applicants where they live and where they intend to live
after they are married.
It appears that some clerks are resisting the
Governor's order. For example,
the Chatham website has instructions for non-residents to
obtain the proper forms as if there were no problem.
Gov. Romney based his directive on an old Massachusetts
law predating the gay marriage decision (General Laws c. 207, §
11) stating that out of state couples who can’t marry in their
home state can’t marry in Massachusetts either. If the couple
lives in a state that expressly forbids same-sex marriage, it
appears that Massachusetts marriage would be illegal. "Before
issuing a license to marry a person who resides and intends to
continue to reside in another state, the officer having authority
to issue the license shall satisfy himself, by requiring
affidavits or otherwise, that such person is not prohibited from
intermarrying by the laws of the jurisdiction where he or she
resides." And the number of such states is sure to increase after
With the status of out-of-state couples'
marriages so volatile, you may wish to follow the legal
on the ACLU's website.
Waiving the 3-day Waiting Period
I perform quite a few weddings services to people who contact me
from out of state. Last year I performed at lease a dozen
ceremonies for couples who obtained their licenses through one day
waivers. Hingham District Court now charges $195.00, but other
courts charge $65.00 What's going on?
Donna Cunio, Norwell,
A: Anticipating an
influx of out-of-staters flocking to Massachusetts wanting to
speed up their weddings, the Courts decided to clarify the rules
and fees for waiving the 3-day waiting period for a marriage
license. First of all, both
parties must file the petition if both are residents of
Massachusetts or if both are
You're right, filing fees for a waiver are still "widely
divergent" despite efforts to make them consistent. The reason?
Two Massachusetts courts -- the District Court and the Probate and
Family Court -- may issue the waiver. All Probate Courts now
charge a consistent $65 and all District Courts charge $195. The
problem is that there are 62 District Courts in the state and only
14 Probate Courts (one in each county seat). So the couple may
have to choose between paying a higher fee or traveling a longer
distance. Moreover, the fee is payable when the petition is filed
and before the matter is presented to a judge. As it is not
refundable if the petition is denied, the court encourages the
couple to confer with the municipal clerk’s office first in case
there is "an impediment to issuing a marriage license." The
judge’s standard of decision on whether to grant a waiver of the
3-day waiting period is if "in his [or her] opinion it is
expedient that the intended marriage be solemnized without
delay." Acting District Court Administrator Michael J. Shea was
our source for this explanation.
Read the entire memorandum from Chief Justice Zoll.
of Gay Marriages.
"Although I understand the religious opposition to same sex
marriage, I don't understand why the topic has become such a civil
matter. Religion has no place in civil matters. It is not up to
the president or governor to make decisions which affect
Do all people not have the same rights? Would a heterosexual
person want to live with a person of the same sex? If the answer
to that question is No, then how can a homosexual person be
expected to live with someone of the opposite sex?
I, too, have officiated at joyous same sex marriages.
Fortunately, I live in Worcester where the City Clerk is an
intelligent, clear thinking person who wants the same rights for
everyone." Elaine Baskin, Worcester,
performed four ceremonies thus far and have counseled with a few
other couples I will marry in the near future. Not to
"generalize" but the people I have met are wonderful who have
already confirmed with the number of years they have been together
they have found their life long partners.
I am a deeply religious person, God is a priority in my
life. I believe God created each of us unique and different ...
we are all his children. Life long partners should to be able to
protect themselves. (Also, if anyone knows an attorney that
specializes in gay unions I would love to talk to them and send
them business)." Donna Cunio,
...and testament to the joy of performing them.
I myself have only done one same sex ceremony (but I am about to
do my second next month). I married a couple who had been together
for thirty-six years. It was very emotional for all three of us!
The kleenex had to be passed around.
Ellen M. Clinton,
Being from Massachusetts, I have been enjoying not only
numerous straight weddings but have been officiating at many
gay/lesbian weddings. These couples are so unbelievably happy
after their ceremonies are completed that it brings tears to my
eyes... These are couples who work and contribute much to society;
many are highly intelligent professionals.
Last week I joined five female couples at an elegant five
star hotel in Boston, arranged through an agency in
California. These couples deserve the right to happiness and I'm
honored that I can join their hearts in love. Just wanted to give
you my take on officiating same gender ceremonies.
Barbara M. Kahn, Malden, MA
There's a New Google Search Engine on the
Couples searching for a JP to marry them may now search
all pages for JPs who
meet their own criteria!
It's another reason for JPs to get a Premium Listing with jpUS.org.
Describe your unique services so that couples will find you!
Russian-speaking JP. Could
you find out if there is a JP who speaks Russian in the Boston area?
The wedding is on November 21 in Norwood. Aleksey Semenov
If a Russian-speaking JP were listed on the findaJP website, he or
she could be found with a click of the mouse, using our new Google
Search feature. Alas, none is now listed. See box to the right.
Minimum age to
If you are a
teenager and emancipated, living on your own, can you still get a
marriage license? [received
from a young woman writing to findaJP.com]
A: In most states
the minimum age to be married is 18, although the consent of a
parent or guardian is often sufficient to override the requirement.
Some states have different age requirements:
Georgia's minimum age is 16
minimum age for males is 17 and females is 15
minimum age is 19
age is 18, but the law authorizes counties to provide for
premarital counseling before issuing a license to persons under
the age of 19 and persons previously divorced.
Kentucky, Oklahoma, Georgia, Maryland, and Delaware allow pregnant
teens or teens who have already had a child to get married
consent, in the first three of those states, the young couple must
get court authorization instead. Maryland requires that the minor be
at least 16. Even with
parental approval, many states will require court approval when
a person is 16 years of age or less.
Speaking of young marriages...
Here's a situation:
Young couple barely 19 come with a marriage license in hand, ready,
willing and able to get married. It has happened to all of us at
one time or another if we have a shingle outside of our home. It
happened to me on Friday morning. I was in PJ's, invited them in,
talked and finally convinced them that we should talk to their
parents and invite them to the ceremony which was going to happen.
But their presence was very important to the bride and groom. Good
news: All showed up, grandparents, brothers, a couple of aunts and
uncles. It was a success. Donna
Cunio, Norwell, MA
would you do... or if you've been there, what did
you do? Have you found yourself in
an awkward situation as a JP?
Send us your story.
a JP in CT perform a ceremony in CT for a couple who reside in
North Carolina? Please advise. I am thinking the couple has to
be a CT resident. query
from JP Marcy
You can get married in CT by taking out your marriage license in
a town in CT and getting married there. There is no residency
requirement. Read more at
My friend is a
JP in Mass. I would like her to preside over my upcoming
nuptials; however, I am to be married in CT. Do you know if
there are 1-day passes to perform ceremonies in CT? How can she
apply to be licensed in CT? Leigh
does not issue one-day passes, nor will it license an
out-of-state JP to perform a wedding. What we suggest (you are
not the first to ask) is this: Locate a CT JP who will do the
legal stuff - sign the license etc. and co-officiate at your
wedding. Many if not most JPs will do this for you. Or the CT JP
can actually "marry" you before or after the formal ceremony --
there's no requirement that the legal ceremony be the ONLY
and In Massachusetts
Can a Justice
of the Peace from out-of-state perform a marriage in
A: Yes. A Certificate of Authorization must be
obtained from the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
prior to the ceremony and returned to the clerk of the city or
town where the license was issued. For further information:
My best friend
lives in California. Can he marry us in Massachusetts?
A: Yes! Even a
friend or relative of the couple
not qualified to
marry people elsewhere may solemnize a wedding in Masschusetts.
A special permit must be obtained from the Governor. For
information and a downloadable application for a one-day
solemnization certificate: http://www.state.ma.us/sec/pre/premar/marone.htm
I will be
uniting two gentlemen from Springfield. Would you please reply
to this message with a short ceremony I could use?
West Stockbridge, MA
A: We haven't
done a same sex ceremony, but have found some good resources
that we have collected on the
Wedding Resources page of the www.jpUS.org website.
unusual wedding I have ever done was in in swimming pool at
sunset, with the bride and groom in their wet suits. When I
announced they were husband and wife, the Herald photographer
with his under water camera took pictures of them kissing
under water!! It made the front page of Saturday's paper. Was
a fun wedding."
"I just did a sand ceremony on a beach in Plymouth. The
bride and groom blended sand from two of the beaches they went
to as children together. They blended the sands in a bowl held
by his daughter. Emotional...... You really do meet a lot of
wonderful people in this role as a JP!
Ellen M. Clinton, Rockland, MA
Best analogy for a JP that we've heard comes from
Mary Pugh of
Norwalk, CT, who writes (forgive the plug for jpUS.org): "Yes
I am the wedding queen....and ALL my leads are coming from
your site. I enjoy these weddings...it's like being a baby
doctor but no malpractice issues or yucky stuff."
Ave Atque Vale "I
wanted to let my fellow justices know that I have not renewed
my commission for the next seven years as a Justice...not
because I don't enjoy the responsibilities of the position,
but because my body has decided that the cold New England
winters are not good for it! For the past seven years I have
truly enjoyed the privilege of officiating at marriages and
the numerous Justices with whom I have become quite friendly.
My wife, Marsha, and I have been commuting for many
years to south Florida, a week or two at a time, and we are
preparing to make the move more permanent. We are in the
midst of preparing the house for sale, and I am shocked by how
much junk one can accumulate over the years. I wish you and
all colleagues continued joy and health as you continue your
work as Justices. Perhaps I will be doing the same in Florida
(I'm not selling my robe!!)"
Steve Rudin, lately