ACLU challenges Nevada’s marriage officiant requirements

By J. DeVoy

The ACLU is suing the State of Nevada and Clark County – where Las Vegas is located – over laws that require non-governmental marriage officiants to have a religious affiliation.  While anyone can perform a marriage in Nevada, he or she must obtain a certificate to solemnize the marriage based on the fact that he or she has a religious affiliation.

One of the plaintiffs, Raul Martinez, claims to be an atheist and member of the American Humanist Association.  If successful, the suit would end – or at least compromise – the state-and-religious duopoly over marriage in Nevada.

One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Allen Lichtenstein, is a friend of the blog, and we wish him success in this case.  In addition to many other First Amendment and civil liberties-related cases, Allen was recently involved in litigation for handbill distributors, political activists, street preachers and impersonators, so that they could continue their activities on the Las Vegas strip’s casino-owned sidewalks.

4 Responses to ACLU challenges Nevada’s marriage officiant requirements

  1. evrenseven says:

    They also require to meet with a financial adviser before hitting the casino floor.

  2. Charles Platt says:

    And after the ACLU finishes with Nevada, they could look a little closer to home and deal with the appalling “marriage officiant certification office” in New York City, which has the authority to allow or disallow any religious or nonreligious affiliation of any person wishing to perform any marriage ceremony. They can reach their conclusion based on any reason at all–or no reason. Entirely arbitrarily. I had to go to New Jersey to get married, because the credentials of the person whom I chose to perform the ceremony were not recognized in New York. So far as I was able to tell, there’s a little office in the New York City Municipal Building where two “nice” little old ladies have nothing else to do but examine the marriage-performing credentials of various groups and give them a thumbs-up or thumbs-down (without any judicial review, naturally).

  3. mamamara says:

    Huh, I got married in Las Vegas and I didn’t know that! We were married by the commissioner of civil marriages, who was a lovely lady who seemed to really enjoy her job.

    I guess that means we were married by the only secular person in town. Yay! One hopes this suit will succeed.

    (My mother is still mad we didn’t get married by Elvis, but maybe if I tell her that Elvis would have probably been doing some kind of Christian ceremony, that might make her feel better.)

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