Code of the District of Columbia (Unofficial)

§ 46-406. Persons authorized to celebrate marriages.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) "Civil celebrant" means a person of a secular or non-religious organization who performs marriage ceremonies.

(2) "Religious" includes or pertains to a belief in a theological doctrine, a belief in and worship of a divine ruling power, a recognition of a supernatural power controlling man's destiny, or a devotion to some principle, strict fidelity or faithfulness, conscientiousness, pious affection, or attachment.

(3) "Society" means a voluntary association of individuals for religious purposes.

(4) "Temporary officiant" means a person authorized by the Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ("Court") to solemnize a specific marriage. The person's authority to solemnize that marriage shall expire upon the filing of the marriage license, pursuant to § 46-412.

(b) For the purpose of preserving the evidence of marriages in the District of Columbia, a marriage authorized under this chapter may be solemnized by the following persons at least 18 years of age at the time of the marriage:

(1) A judge or retired judge of any court of record;

(2) The Clerk of the Court or such deputy clerks of the Court as may, in writing, be designated by the Clerk and approved by the Chief Judge of the Court;

(3) A minister, priest, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination or society;

(4) For any religious society which does not by its own custom require the intervention of a minister for the celebration of marriages, a marriage may be solemnized in the manner prescribed and practiced in that religious society, with the license issued to, and returns to be made by, a person appointed by the religious society for that purpose;

(5) A civil celebrant;

(6) A temporary officiant;

(7) Members of the Council;

(8) The Mayor of the District of Columbia; or

(9) The parties to the marriage.

(b-1) All persons authorized by subsection (b) of this section to solemnize marriages shall comply with the requirements of § 46-412.

(b-2) The Court shall charge a reasonable registration fee for authorization to solemnize marriages; provided, that the registration fee for a temporary officiant shall not exceed $25.

(c) No priest, imam, rabbi, minister, or other official of any religious society who is authorized to solemnize or celebrate marriages shall be required to solemnize or celebrate any marriage.

(d) Each religious society has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within that particular religious society's faith.

(e) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious society, or a nonprofit organization that is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods for a purpose related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious programs, counseling, courses, or retreats, that is in violation of the religious society's beliefs.

(2) A refusal to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods in accordance with this subsection shall not create any civil claim or cause of action, or result in a District action to penalize or withhold benefits from the religious society or nonprofit organization that is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society.

History

(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1392, ch. 854, § 1288; Apr. 23, 1904, 33 Stat. 297, ch. 1490, § 1; June 25, 1948, 62 Stat. 991, ch. 646, § 32(a), (b); May 24, 1949, 63 Stat. 107, ch. 139, § 127; July 5, 1966, 80 Stat. 264, Pub. L. 89-493, § 13(a), (b); July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); Jan. 26, 1982, D.C. Law 4-60, § 2, 28 DCR 4768; Mar. 3, 2010, D.C. Law 18-110, § 2(d), 57 DCR 27; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-36, § 2, 60 DCR 12143.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 46-412.

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-106.

1973 Ed., § 30-106.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-110 added subsecs. (c), (d), and (e).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-36 rewrote (a) and (b); and added (b-1) and (b-2).

Legislative History of Law 4-60

Law 4-60 was introduced in Council and assigned Bill No. 4-251, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The Bill was adopted on first and second readings on September 15, 1981, and September 29, 1981, respectively. Signed by the Mayor on October 30, 1981, it was assigned Act No. 4-106 and transmitted to both Houses of Congress for its review.

Legislative History of Law 18-110

For Law 18-110, see notes following § 46-401.

Legislative History of Law 20-36

Law 20-36, the "Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2013," was introduced in Council and assigned Bill No. 20-118. The Bill was adopted on first and second readings on June 26, 2013, and July 10, 2013, respectively. Signed by the Mayor on August 6, 2013, it was assigned Act No. 20-152 and transmitted to Congress for its review. D.C. Law 20-36 became effective on November 5, 2013.