We think of ourselves as the hub for civil marriage officiants. As such, we take our responsibility to support our members seriously. This includes providing the resources to support them during the coronavirus pandemic. Our priority is safety. That also includes making sure couples know that professional officiants are equipped with the knowledge needed to solemnize their marriage during these uncertain times. Similarly, we are partnering with our state government leaders to both share protocols and advocate for policies that meet all stakeholders’ needs.
- See JPus’ COVID-19 Resources for officiants.
- Resources to help couples navigate weddings during the coronavirus.
Making sure that our members know what is needed to stay safe, and to guide their couples through the pandemic, is an important priority. We consulted with OSHA and developed a COVID training certification for marriage officiants. It is available for free.
Staying connected with media outlets helps raise awareness of the challenges JPs experience. Each officiant operates as a small business. The wedding industry is taking a big hit, and financial hardship is real. Across the board, our message is postpone, don’t cancel. Efforts to let the public know that civil officiants are able to solemnize a marriage while practicing social distancing is part of our strategy.
Stories that featured findaJP.com, the Justice of the Peace Association and our amazing JPus members are posted in our In the News section. Coverage includes the Boston Globe and the Burlington Free Press, and press releases to let the public know that JPs are available and working to officiate at essential marriages.
Executive and Legislative Advocacy
Facilitating marriages during COVID took coordination and advocacy on multiple levels. From the beginning of the crisis, JPus contacted the Secretary of State and/or Governor’s office for each of the states that we are active in (Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida). Our purpose has been to facilitate communication from the governments, so officiants knew the rules and expectations. Some states were better than others at recognizing the legal implications when marriages cannot be held. Or, when couples are unable to secure a marriage license.
- Connecticut JPus had regular contact with the State Registrar of Vital Records, Elizabeth Frugale, until steps were implemented to address the closed municipal offices around the state. Governor Lamont issued an executive order on March 24th, 2020 that loosened marriage license application procedures. This allowed couples to secure the license, and JPs to solemnize marriages, before returning the paperwork to the respective town clerk.
- Massachusetts In the state there is a lack of direction or guidance for JPs, clerks and couples regarding the processing of legal marriages. Even when municipal offices are open, marriage licenses are not being issued.