Originally Posted by listopencil
I would think that it would be. But, for instance, there is a law that goes into effect on July 1st of this year in Indiana reducing
the criminal punishment for solemnizing a marriage that isn't recognized as legal by the state.
That's an interesting find. I don't see how it could be constitutional unless by "solemnizing" they mean performing the ceremonial functions of a state-sanctioned marriage as opposed to performing a purely religious ceremony. The statute doesn't include a definition for "solemnize" so there is some ambiguity, but one reasonable principle of construction is to embrace the meaning that makes a law constitutional instead of the meaning that makes it unconstitutional.
In a lawsuit concerning this Indiana provision, a court refused to grant injunctive relief to a plaintiff who was suing on a somewhat unrelated issue. In it's decision, the court says
Id. § 31-11-6-1. The individual who “solemnizes” the marriage has three related responsibilities: (1) completing the original and duplicate marriage certificates; (2) presenting the original certificate to the couple; and (3) “[n]ot later than thirty (30) days after the date of the marriage,” filing the duplicate certificate and the actual marriage license with the clerk of the circuit court who issued the couple’s license. Id. § 31-11-4-16. Under Indiana law, anyone who discharges these duties without authority to do so under the Solemnization Statute commits a Class B misdemeanor. Id. § 31-11-6-1.
This judge seems to be thinking in terms of the state aspect of a solemnization rather than the ceremonial parts. Since this case isn't really testing the issue we're discussing, it's not necessarily dispositive, but it definitely doesn't support the idea that it could be used to prevent a purely religious activity.
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