Alabama bill would end marriage license requirement

Ending marriage licenses in Alabama?

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Senate Bill 69, which is before the state House right now, would abolish the need for a marriage license.

It’s something Donna Hearn isn’t happy about.

“No more significant meaning than just getting a simple car tag,” says Hearn

Instead of a license, you would just get a certificate. The bill only calls for filling out the needed documents at the probate judge’s office for a couple to be considered legally married. It also removes the requirement for an actual ceremony. Hearn, who is a licensed marriage official, says that would take away what she calls the “oh wow” moment of realization for the couple.

“It sanctifies the moment the couple has legally come together and want to join in front of family and friends and in front of God,” says Hearn.

Without a ceremony requirement, Hearn fears it would negatively impact her industry, from the florist to the caterer. We talked with the sponsor of the bill, Senator Greg Albritton, about the reason behind the bill.

“In Alabama, in particular in my district, we have counties that continue to not perform any ceremonies or to even issue marriage licenses to people. So my purpose is to open up all of the state so that people do not have to travel outside their counties to obtain or to register or to be married,” says Albritton.

And what about the thought of people opting out of a traditional ceremony?

“I don’t believe that will occur anyway. Anytime people can have a celebration with marriage, they’re going to do it,” says Albritton.

Hearn also says this is a way around the same-sex marriage issue since a probate judge would not be able to deny anyone getting married as long as they had the right paperwork filed.

“That’s fine, but let’s do it another way so that there’s not so much collateral damage,” says Hearn.

It would also change minors who want to get married. Right now, the law requires both sets of parents to sign off on the marriage, this bill would only need one parent to say it’s OK.

The bill is waiting to be put on the calendar for a vote in the House and if they vote yes, it will become law. Hearn says if you oppose the bill, to please call your state representative and Governor Key Ivey’s office.

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