March 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Alarmed by the spread of same-sex marriage, Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell) has proposed a bill that would prohibit judges and other public officials from performing weddings and issuing marriage licenses.

Licenses would have to be approved by a clergy person in order to be valid, and there are restrictions on which clergy can approve marriage licenses.

According to the bill, licenses must be approved by “an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he or she belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi.”

“Put it [marriage] back to what it was supposed to be and was originally – a holy matrimony and a very solemn and spiritual vow,” Russ told ABC affiliate KSWO-TV.

Russ’ proposal would have the effect of banning marriage between atheists, but he doesn’t seem to care.

“They don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage,” Russ said.

Critics pointed out that Oklahoma does not uniformly recognize common-law marriages as legal unions, which would make it difficult for individuals who do not identify as Christian or Jewish to secure the legal benefits of marriage.