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Judge: Secular celebrants can officiate marriages
by Matt Simonette
2017-01-18

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A federal judge, on Jan. 4, ruled that certified secular celebrants are authorized to perform marriages in Illinois.

Secular celebrants are trained by the organization Center for Inquiry ( CFI )—which advocates for "reason, science and secularism"—to officiate at weddings wherein the couple might not want a religious or government official.

"I am truly relieved by this ruling, and I am ready to get to work," said Galen Broaddus, a secular celebrant who brought the suit, in a statement. "I think of all the couples who feel marginalized for being nonreligious, who either had to compromise their core beliefs by taking part in a religious wedding ceremony, or else settled for a government wedding. But now they have the opportunity to have one of the most deeply meaningful events of their lives commemorated in a way that reflects who they are."

U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce rendered the Jan. 4 decision. A 2014 court decision ruled that Secular Celebrants could officiate at weddings in Indiana; there are similar cases pending in Texas, Michigan and Ohio.

"We made sincere efforts with the Illinois legislature to have the authority to solemnize marriages extended to secular celebrants, and it's frustrating that this simple matter had to be settled through the courts," said Nicholas Little, vice president and general counsel of CFI. "It would be so much easier—and far less expensive to taxpayers—if lawmakers across the country would agree to work with us so that secular couples everywhere can be married in accordance with their values."


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