Justice of the Peace Association members have long decried the problem of the lay officiant. In Massachusetts the One-Day Solemnizer causes particular distress. The Governor’s office appoints both One-Dayers and JPs, but treats each differently. This puts professional JPs at a disadvantage.
In response to a request from Governor Baker’s office, JPus submitted a white paper that identified four problems with the rule:
- The state treats lay and professional officiants differently and unfairly, to the detriment of JPs.
- Municipal town clerks complain that as many as 90% of One-Day Solemnizers made significant legal errors, doubling the amount of work they had to do.
- One-Day Solemnizers compromise the integrity of the marriage license and are “loose with the law”.
- Couples who use a One-Day Solemnizer may unwittingly jeopardize the validity of their marriage because important paperwork isn’t filed as required by law.
After six years’ effort to modify or undo the state’s One-Day Solemnizer rule, JPus has decided to wait and see before determining if or when to revisit the law. If further action is to be undertaken, we would require a significant groundswell of support from Massachusetts JPs.
- The Senate determined that no further action would be taken on the S2620 bill to evaluate One-Day Solemnizers. It died without any further action.
- Senator Anne Gobi took the lead and re-submitted the Resolve to establish a commission study to evaluate the One-Day Solemnizer rule: S2063. If passed, the commission would assess: the integrity of the marriage certificate, the increased demand for temporary officiants, availability of JPs, opportunities for collaboration between JPs and one-day solemnizers, and the code of ethics governing JPs and one-day solemnizers.
- The Resolve is currently pending before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. Your voice is needed.
- Senator Gobi’s office asked JPus about two additional pieces of legislation. One is to increase the fees that JPs may charge, The other would increase the fees of 1-Day Solemnizers. Her office explains that having the two 1-Dayer Bills (Resolve and fees) pending together gives additional room to negotiate. JPus polled its membership, and because the results were favorable, she submitted these Bills, too.Please ask your legislators to cosponsor these bills. Once these bills are assigned to Committee we will have more information.
- On February 27, 2020, the 2019 Resolve passed out of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. On March 2, 2020 it was discharged onto the Senate Committee on Rules as S2569.
- All non-COVID legislation was put on hold, and the bill did not progress.
- In response to our 2019 white paper, Senator Julian Cyr submitted S1831, a Resolve to establish a commission study to evaluate the One-Day Solemnizer rule. If passed, the commission would have assessed: the integrity of the marriage certificate, the increased demand for temporary officiants, availability of JPs, opportunities for collaboration between JPs and one-day solemnizers, and the code of ethics governing JPs and one-day solemnizers.
- Accordingly, JPus supported this legislation, and encouraged our members to advocate for it too. We want to convey to the legislators that professional JPs bring expertise and competence to their role as marriage officiants.
- JPus’ Loretta Jay testified in favor before the Joint Committee hearing on October 1, 2019.
- In 2018 JPus began identifying allies. For instance, we sought collaborators. Meaning, those who share our viewpoint that the One-Day Solemnizer rule was laden with problems and needing an overhaul. In addition to partnering with the governor’s office, JPus also works with legislators and stakeholders. Ultimately, our goal is to have legislation passed that will resolve the problems with the rule.
- This link explains what Resolve to Evaluate 1-Day Solemnizers proposes.
- Be a part of the solution. See current legislative Action Alerts about the 1-Day Solemnizers.
- This article gives how-to info so JPs and clerks can effectively advocate for or against legislation that matters to them.
- See all the legislation important to Massachusetts JPs during the 2021-2022 session.
- JPus submitted a white paper to Governor Baker about the One-Day Solemnizer rule
- The Boston Globe ran a story about one-dayers on June 19, 2018 that mischaracterized JPs, calling them irrelevant – and JPus responded with a letter to the editor.
- In 2021 JPus polled its Massachusetts JPs on legislative issues relevant to them