Alaska House Votes to Allow Elected Officials to Solemnize Marriages
HB 20 Adds Elected Officials to the List of Groups Who May Solemnize Weddings in Alaska
Places like rural Alaska would benefit from ease of access to marriage solemnization.
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Juneau – The Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation sponsored by Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage) that amends the Alaska Marriage Code to add language that allows for marriages to be solemnized by elected officials of the state of Alaska.
Under current Alaska statute, marriage may only be solemnized by a minister, priest, rabbi, or commissioned officer of the Salvation Army, a marriage commissioner or judicial officer, or any religious organization or congregation. With recent court closures, adding elected officials to this list provides Alaskans an easily accessible marriage option to perform the ceremony without having to go through the time-consuming process of arranging for a marriage commissioner appointment. This change particularly improves access to marriage solemnization in rural areas with fewer officials pre-approved by the state. For instance, if a couple in a remote Alaskan village are set to be married and the minister becomes ill, an elected official could step in on short notice.
“Part of our role as elected government officials is to reduce red tape and make government accessible to the public. In sponsoring this bill I’d like to make marriage more easily accessible for Alaskans. This bill will allow couples to have their marriages solemnized directly by elected officials. It allows us to be the friendly face of government while providing a user-friendly service to the public,” said Rep. Claman. “Being able to perform a marriage would be a privilege and we would be fortunate to have the opportunity.”
HB 20 passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 29-6. The bill will be sent to the Alaska Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact Sara Perman in Rep. Claman’s office at (907) 465-4914.