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How can I get government approval to officiate marriage?
Posted by Brother Kevin on 07 April 2012 10:10 PM
In most states, you do not require any sort of registration, and as a result, in those states, there is no document that you can obtain from the state government showing that you are really a minister. This makes some people uncomfortable, because they are used to having the government approve of things to make them official.|
This is not the case with religious matters, thanks to the First Amendment. However, since marriage is also a civil contract, the state does allow itself to regulate the officiation of marriage. The only thing there is that they cannot approve of ministers of one church while declining another. They do not get to determine which churches are "OK". Whatever rules they have for this must apply equally to all ministers.
It really doesn't matter who says the magic words at a wedding. The couple must obtain a marriage license from the state, it must be witnessed, and must be returned to the state for recording. There are no special skills involved. Anyone who can speak can perform a wedding, and if it's OK for the couple, it should be enough for the state.
Some states do require the minister to register. You can learn about the general requirements for various states by checking our web site:
For those who place a value on having a government agency acknowledge them as a minister, it is possible for them to register in one of the states which does require registration, even if they do not live there. Such registration is valid for officiating marriage in the state which provides the registration, but it does give the minister a nice "government issued" certificate saying that they are really a minister, something is which otherwise not available to them.
The easiest state to deal with, in my opinion, is Ohio. Anyone can register in Ohio as a minister authorized by that state to officiate marriage within that state. You just get a form from their web site, send it in along with $10 and an original ordination credential certificate, and the Ohio Secretary of State will send back an official certificate saying that you are recognized in Ohio as a minister who can officiate marriage there. They will also return the original ordination certificate.
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