New DC Marriage Law May Benefit Gay Couples

Notary public service

Notary public service

New legislation in Washington, DC has been proposed that would allow notaries to perform marriage ceremonies.

Under current law, heterosexual and homosexual couples can be married by a clergyman or a judge in a civil ceremony. This ceremony can take place in either a public or a private venue.

The Marriage Officiant Amendment Act would add Washington, DC notaries to the list of acceptable wedding officiants.  Essentially in addition to other notary services that notary publics can provide, they can also marry people.

The proposed law has not been received without controversy, however, since it is intended as an extension to the same-sex marriage law. The proposed legislation is expected to greatly benefit gay couples who may not wish to have a religious ceremony or get married in a courthouse.

The law poses a problem, however, in that it has the potential to compromise a notary public’s impartiality. According to the law, a notary is not allowed to refuse service to an individual because of his or her race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. If passed, the Marriage Officiant Amendment Act would forbid notaries from refusing to officiate a marriage, which many worry would make them too vulnerable to lawsuits.