NewsPublic AffairsGovernment / August 7, 2014

AG's Office Undecided On Appeal Of Atheist Celebrant Case

Brandon Smith
AG's Office Undecided On Appeal Of Atheist Celebrant Case

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The Indiana Attorney General’s office says it hasn’t decided whether to appeal a ruling allowing atheist leaders to solemnize marriages in the state, despite the group that brought the lawsuit –  Center for Inquiry – announcing its victory Thursday.

Indiana’s marriage statute regulates who can make a marriage official – any religious clergy and certain government officials like mayors and judges. The Center for Inquiry filed a lawsuit in 2012 challenging the statute, saying it discriminates against non-religious people.  A U.S. District Court judge ruled against CFI, but last month the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.  And CFI announced that the state declined to appeal the 7th Circuit’s ruling, clearing the way for secular celebrants to officiate marriages.   

But the Indiana Attorney General’s office says the District Court has only issued a narrow order directing the state to allow CFI-certified celebrants to solemnize marriages.  CFI Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden says even that narrow order means a lot to Hoosiers, and not just atheists.

“There’s people that, even though they’re religious, don’t want a religious ceremony because some of the churches and so on require counseling," Wooden said. "They require that you do it in the church; they have a bunch of strings attached to doing the religious weddings and some of these people don’t want to go through that.”

The state has 90 days from the 7th Circuit’s ruling to appeal.  In a statement, CFI apologized for creating confusion and says it hopes the state still opts not to continue the case.  



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