February 13, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bill would create ‘temporary’ marriage officiants
Tommy Wells, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) has scheduled a public hearing on March 14 for a bill that would allow couples engaged to be married in the city to choose any adult to perform their wedding ceremony.

The Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2013 would authorize same-sex or opposite-sex couples applying for a marriage license to designate a friend, parent, sibling or any other adult as a one-time, “temporary officiant” empowered to perform the marriage.

“‘Temporary Officiant’ means an individual authorized to solemnize only the marriage registered with the Clerk of the said Court, and shall receive proof of that authority,” the bill states. “The individual’s authority to solemnize that marriage shall expire upon completion of such solemnization,” the bill says.

Under the city’s marriage law, couples must identify the person they plan to perform their marriage ceremony on the application for their marriage license, which is obtained at the marriage bureau of the D.C. Superior Court. The current law limits the selection of the person who can perform a marriage ceremony to licensed clergy members, judges and court personnel designated as officiants.

Five Council members co-introduced the bill with Wells – Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), David Catania (I-At-Large), Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), and David Grosso (I-At-Large).

A separate bill introduced three years ago that would have allowed licensed notary publics to perform marriages died in committee.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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