A secular organization is challenging the state’s requirement that marriages be solemnized by clergy or elected officials.
The Center for Inquiry Inc. and two Grand Rapids residents trained as secular celebrants are suing Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons.
They say non-religious couples are left to having marriages solemnized either by clergy, or a small number of elected officials – judges, mayors, county clerks – who typically have no relationship with the couple.
“A ceremony solemnized by secular elected officials is often not an acceptable alternative for any number of reasons including, but not limited to: limitations on time and place ceremonies may occur, the fact that religious concepts and language may be included notwithstanding the couple’s desires, the couple does not want the governmental overtone that the elected official’s presence carries, and the official typically does not know the couple personally and therefore cannot construct a service which expresses the couple’s values and personalities,” Chicago attorney Michael Showalter wrote in the lawsuit.
Lyons said in a statement that she had just received the complaint and will review it with legal counsel.
“In my capacity as county clerk, I have operated in compliance with the law as it pertains to the issuing and filing of marriage licenses in Kent County, and I will continue to do so.”
Jennifer Beahan and Richard Brayton, plaintiffs in the lawsuit, say they are “certified secular celebrants” but face arrest for a misdemeanor if they solemnize marriages.
Beahan, executive director of Center for Inquiry Michigan, said the challenge to the law isn’t an attack on religion.
Read the full story at MLive