When the Stamford Advocate ran a story about the Census Bureau’s announcement that the marriage rate in Connecticut is the lowest in the country, JPus managing member Loretta Jay supposed a reason for the decline.
To the Editor:
The recent story, Marriage rates in Connecticut lowest in US (Feb 25, 2020) makes me wonder. Is this a reflection of society’s willingness to treat the legal act of marrying so flippantly? Online officiants became a thing in 2001, after Joey on Friends got ordained to officiate Monica and Chandler’s wedding. Oddly, they became a trend. Even though Joey’s performance was filled with comedic errors. In the real world, when online ministers get involved, it is even less pretty.
Showing up drunk, cell phones ringing. They clearly aren’t professionals. But the serious problems reveal themselves when it comes to the legal act of certifying the marriage. What is a couple to do when it is time to apply for health insurance? Or an immigration status is threatened – all because the bestie who performed the ceremony forgot to complete the documentation and file it with the town clerk.
These are real problems. In 2018, the Justice of the Peace Association conducted a survey of Massachusetts town clerks and found that up to 90% of their lay officiants made errors on the paperwork, jeopardizing the validity of the marriage.
That same year, Connecticut’s lawmakers wisely rejected a bill that would have expanded opportunities for even more lay officiants. Instead, if a couple wants to have a friend or relative say the words at the ceremony, they can. They just need to bring in a justice of the peace to witness the ceremony and take care of the legal paperwork.
As we become more aware of lay officiant problems, perhaps the way we think of tying the knot will change, too. Because, according to Maggie Gallagher, coauthor of The Case for Marriage, married people “live longer, healthier, happier, sexier, and more affluent lives.”
★ Are you looking for a professional wedding officiant? See our amazing JPs at findaJP.com.
★ Are you a wedding officiant? See the benefits of a JPus membership.
★ Read the original article that was published in the Stamford Advocate.
★ See the details of JPus’ survey of Massachusetts town clerks related to lay officiants, as mentioned in this letter.