Public Health Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-991

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH'S RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO SOLEMNIZE MARRIAGES.

Vote Date:

3/23/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/18/2015

File No.:

446

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Public Health Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill allows any ordained or licensed clergy member (including those ordained online) to perform marriage ceremonies in Connecticut. Current law allows ordained or licensed clergy members to do so only if they continue in the work of the ministry (the law does not define this term).

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Jewel Mullen, Connecticut Department of Public Health: This proposal was put forth by DPH in order to clarify section 46b-22 of the Connecticut General Statues concerning marriage officiators. Current law allows ordained clergy to perform marriages in Connecticut, “as long as they continue in the work of the ministry”, this language has never been clearly defined. This has led to endless inquiries from the public, mostly from persons who have been ordained through online ministries-about whether such persons are authorized to preform marriages in Connecticut.

Thus, for online ordained ministers who do not perform conventional ministerial work-such as leading a congregation- the lack of definition makes It difficult for the department and local registers to answer whether a person meets the requirements for performing marriages. The difficulty is further compounded by the religion clauses of the 1st amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits government from establishing or promoting a religion, or interfering in the free exercise of religion.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

None

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None

Reported by: Zani Imetovski

Date: 4/6/2015