Oklahoma House votes to do away with state-issued marriage licenses

This is the kind of solution to the “gay marriage” issue that we’ve been asking for for a very long time: get the state out of the marriage business altogether! Oklahoma just took an important first step.

from Reason:

Something remarkably libertarian has just happened in Oklahoma. The state’s House of Representatives voted Tuesday to end government licensing of marriages. Doesn’t that potentially sound amazing and liberating? The government of Oklahoma is essentially saying, “Y'all work it out yourselves.”

Sort of, anyway. Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell) introduced House Bill 1125 (pdf) with the intent of getting county court clerks out of the duty to officiate marriage ceremonies. This was because some clerks have religious objections to gay marriage. What Russ did, though, was to make it so that citizens no longer need clerks for their marriages. They will instead file “certificates of marriage” or file affidavits of common law marriage with the clerks after it’s all done with. This puts the responsibility for officiating the ceremony on judges or various religious figures. And according to the bill, these certificates will stand as proof of marriage for Oklahoma law:

Any entity requiring proof of identity or marital status shall accept a certified copy of the marriage certificate or affidavit of common law marriage that has been filed with the court clerk. Any reference in the Oklahoma Statutes requiring a marriage license as proof of identity or marital status shall be interpreted to include a marriage certificate or affidavit of common law marriage executed on or after November 1, 2015.

So this isn’t some phony “separate but equal” plan to protect marriage from “the gays.” Any Oklahoma statute that operates off of marital status or provides benefits or privileges based on marital status will accept either of these non-license certificates. The common law marriage option is for those who don’t want to go the “formal ceremony” route. Note that they will get all the same rights and privileges under Oklahoma law.

read the rest

Marriage is, at its core, a religious institution, and there’s no reason why the state needs to be involved at all.


Congrats To Pennsylvania for being a part of Marriage Equality History!

Looking to run down to City Hall and get hitched? Tara Beth Photography is available to photograph you short&sweet ceremony in Philadelphia! Please pass along this offer to anyone you know heading down to City Hall!
After Gay Marriage Decision, Mississippi May Stop Issuing All Marriage Licenses
Mississippi is considering pulling the plug on issuing marriage licenses altogether after the Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriage Friday morning.

Good. Hopefully the rest of the states follow suit. No government should be the ultimate authority in recognizing a couple (or trio) as committed to one another. Marriage is a contractual relationship.

Honestly, I am hoping this ruling forces insurance providers to reconsider their entire structures. The door is [rightfully] now open for any people living together to go down to the court house [figuratively] and say they are married so they can receive the economic benefits of living together. Drop “marriage” tax benefits and insurance plans. Adopt “joint living” structures. What about the widowed grandmother taking care of her two grandkids? What about two roommates who have lived with each other for 6 years? Why SHOULDN’T these people be permitted to enter into similar contractual obligations with one another or for the benefit of the other?

For the record, I am in full support of marriage equality. I have always believed the barriers to love imposed by the Federal and State governments to be restrictive. But now that marriage is available practically universally, we have to consider whether there was every a  reason for its legal privileges in the first place.

Larry Duncan, 56, and Randy Shepherd, 48, were one of the first couples to get a marriage license in Washington. Reblog or click the heart on this photo to congratulate Larry and Randy and all the loving couples who will soon be legally married in Washington! And check out the road to victory in this 15-photo retrospective!

Santa Cruz Evening News, September 20, 1929

Bandaged, limping, the result of an auto smashup as they were on their way to the marriage license bureau - well, it made no difference to Byron A. Maxan, of Oakland, Calif., and pretty Helen A. Keyser, now Mrs. Maxan. They got their license and were married - even though they looked like this when the preacher performed the ceremony.

Supreme Court to rule on states rights to decide gay marriage issues

If ever there were a power not relegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution, it’s the issue of defining marriage.  You can search hard and long, but the issue of marriage is not in the Constitution.  Now, the 10th Amendment says that any powers not specifically granted by the Constitution rests with the states.  

Today, the Supreme Court has decided to take up an issue that may test the limits of the 10th Amendment’s power. 

from USA Today:

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to resolve the national debate over same-sex marriage once and for all.

The justices will consider four cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, consolidated and heard together. They will hear 2 ½ hours of oral arguments in April and issue a ruling before the current term ends in late June.

The new challenges to gay marriage bans are destined to become even more of a landmark than those decided by the court in 2013 — United States v. Windsor, which forced the federal government to recognize gay marriages, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which made California the 13th state to allow them.

Those rulings, while historic, did not resolve the threshold questions in the debate: whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, or whether states have the right to ban the practice.

The justices’ hands were forced by a split among federal appellate courts, created when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld four states’ marriage bans in November. While gays and lesbians can marry in 36 states, most recently including Florida, the practice is banned in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, along with 10 other states.

read the rest

All it would take is five individuals who know how to read, and this issue will forever be out of the hands of Federal courts.  Marriage is not Federal issue, nor should it be.

For that matter, it shouldn’t be a government issue at all. The practice of issuing marriage licenses started specifically to prohibit interracial couples from getting married. It’s about time we stopped bestowing benefits on married couples that should apply to everyone or could be handled through private contracts.  Get the government out of the marriage business, both on the State and Federal levels.  

Marriage is a religious institution and should rest between two individuals and God.
AP Exclusive: Charles Manson gets marriage license

CORCORAN, Calif. (AP) — Mass murderer Charles Manson has gotten a license to marry a 26-year-old woman who visits him in prison. The Kings County marriage license, viewed Monday by The Associated Press, was issued Nov.…

So this guy gets to have a legally recognized marriage but gay couples ruin the sanctity of the commitment and sacrament? I don’t think so.
We're Pretty Sure Oklahoma Is Legalizing Polygamy To Stop Gay Marriage
Genius Republicans in Oklahoma just passed a law putting marriage certificates in the hands of clergy. Seems they forgot some clergy believe in polygamy.
By Curtis F

Genius Republicans in Oklahoma just passed a law putting marriage certificates in the hands of clergy. Seems they forgot some clergy believe in polygamy.

Should a Muslim Woman Marry a Man Who Doesn't Want a Legal Marriage?

After a recent conversation, I decided to ask Muslim Facebook a question: “Ladies, a man wants to have a nikah but no legal marriage. How would you respond?”

Almost immediately, responses started rolling in and they continued to roll in all day along. Two hundred and forty five comments later, I figured I needed to blog about it. 

To be as transparent as possible, I’ll share a bit of personal info: The hubs and I have a marriage license. We didn’t do it because we thought we had to. We did it because it was an option we found useful. But I digress; this isn’t about me. I want to speak in more general terms about the American Muslim community. 

If we don’t do anything nothing else, we get married! That’s a good thing for the most part. Marriage is necessary for a strong society, but the problem is that in our haste to complete half the deen, we sometimes get into marriages that never had a firm foundation to begin with. The result: short-lived marriages and recycled spouses. Its one thing to get divorced and remarried, but to trade out spouses as frequently as you upgrade your iPhone is a problem. But again, I digress. Let me get back on track. 

I wish I had a quick yes or no answer for this question, but areas of gray can never be fully captured with such simple answers. My goal here isn’t to write up an opinion piece about why I think marriages should be conducted a certain way. My goal is to present as much helpful information as possible in the hopes that women considering marriage can make informed decisions they won’t regret later. 

What constitutes a Muslim marriage?

When it comes to Muslim marriage, there are four ways to go about it: 1) nikah only; 2) nikah and walima; 3) nikah and marriage license; 4) nikah, walima and marriage license.

So we’re all clear, lets get some definitions for these terms. 

  • Nikah- means “contract.” It is the religious ceremony that must take place in order for Muslims to be married. There are some differences regarding what must be included in a nikah, but the general consensus is that it must include the following: 1) willing bride and groom; 2) an offer and acceptance; 3) a dowry presented to bride; 3) at least 2 witnesses; 4) a guardian on behalf of the bride. (The Quran Blog has some in-depth information about the history and importance of the nikah in Islam.)
  • Walima- is understood to mean “marriage banquet.” It can also be referred to as a wedding reception. It is the sunnah to invite the community to a walima after a couple had consummated their marriage. It isn’t obligatory, but it is wonderful way of celebrating the blessings of marriage and alerting the community of the marriage. 
  • Marriage license- a state-issued license (certificate) that affords the couple recognition in the eyes of the law. Regulations vary from state to state, but they must be applied for in person by the couple prior to their marriage ceremony (nikah), and there is a fee involved. 

Islamically, a marriage license isn’t required though some argue it falls under the need to follow the law of the land (i.e., 4:59- O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you….)

If it isn’t required, why would a Muslim couple get a marriage license?

Marriage licences serve as another form of documentation of a marriage. Most Muslim couples who get them see them as a form of protection. They can be helpful in the following areas

  • filing taxes jointly
  • proof of marriage in legal proceedings.
  • proof of authority to make medical decisions on a spouse’s behalf
  • create a easily traceable record of your marriage
  • filing for various types of insurance
  • international traveling to certain countries
  • creating a barrier that prevents couples from rushing into divorce

If there are benefits of getting a marriage license, why would any person not want one?

There are legitimate and sketchy reasons for not wanting a marriage license. 


  • Not required- Some Muslims have no express problem with marriage licences but still don’t feel the need get one since it isn’t technically required for a marriage to be valid Islamically. 
  • Interest in polygamy- In the interest of fairness, some men prefer not to get marriage licenses since they know they wouldn’t be able to get them for additional wives.
  • Distrust of/dislike for secular government- Some see getting a marriage as seeking the approval of an institution that isn’t associated with Islam. 


  • Not interested in a serious commitment- Though they won’t say these words outright, some men want a marriage they can quickly get out of. Ending a marriage that isn’t recognized by the state is faster and less expensive. These men are often looking for “halal sex,” not a lasting relationship they truly care about.

How do I know if his reasons are legitimate or sketchy?

There are many ways to decipher a man’s true intentions. They all involve paying close attention to his actions and words. Most times, a woman knows when a man has ulterior motives. She may not always admit it to herself, but she knows. 

  • If he’s pushy and in a rush to get married- When men are only looking for halal sex, they will often be in a rush to get married. If a brother keeps pushing marriage even though you’ve already expressed that you aren’t ready or are unsure, he’s probably sketchy. 
  • If he seems preoccupied with sex- If a man is constantly making inappropriate sexual remarks (even if he tries to pass them off as jokes), he’s probably sketchy. For example, a sister once told me a brother told her, “Come on and let me bismillah that thing one time.” Sisters, hear me when I say this: Anyone who wants to “bismillah that thing” is sketchy!
  •  If he tries to guilt you into marriage- Some men try to convince women that their insistence on a spur-of-the-moment hallway wedding is all about their efforts to be good Muslim men.”You know long engagements are frowned upon in Islam. If this were the time of the Prophet, we woulda BEEN married. Let’s not be like  the kaffirs.”
  • If he doesn’t want you to plan an actual wedding- The benefit of marriage is in the actual marriage, so it is totally fine to not want a big wedding. (That’s actually a smart move financially.) However, it is also fine to want to do something fun and memorable to commemorate your wedding day. If he tries to dissuade you from planning something more formal and instead insists that his friend can marry you guys this weekend and then you’ll all roll through IHOP for a Rooty Tooty Fresh N’ Fruity (no pork though), he’s probably sketchy. 

On the other hand, if he makes his case for why he doesn’t want a marriage license but also proves to you that he is looking for a serious commitment, one that involves him caring for you and any children guys have, he’s probably a keeper.

How can I protect myself without a marriage license?

If the two of you have agreed that a marriage license is not something you want to pursue, there are still ways to protect yourself. 

  • Get an official marriage certificate signed by the officiating imam. Keep a physical copy in a safe place and an electronic copy for backup. 

Sample Islamic marriage certificate. Available for download here.

  • Draft a detailed marriage contract. It should state, in depth, what both of your expectations and agreements are. Contracts vary from couple to couple, but important areas to include are:

1. financial plans (who will pay for what, how money will be managed, whether or not you will be working outside the home, if not working outside the home, how much money he will provide for your own personal spending. etc)

2. divorce procedure (Should a divorce happen, how will the kids be managed, how will things be divided, how will you support yourself, etc.)

The contract should not be one-sided. It should be a safeguard for both parties and should only be signed after both parties contribute to and agree with the stipulations. It should also be looked over by a lawyer and notarized. has a nice template you can use as a starting point. 

  • Be sure you are included in his will. All couples should have wills that detail how their affairs and assets will be handled after their passing. Be sure there are provisions for you (and children) in the will. 

Having a marriage license doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage. By that same logic, not having a marriage license doesn’t guarantee a divorce. In the end, no marriage is guaranteed, but the ones that are entered into carefully with strategic planning are the ones that tend to do better.

Hope this is helpful. And remember, no sketchballs!