Proposed bill would end marriage licenses

Published: Jan. 22, 2015 at 11:17 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2015 at 4:09 PM CST
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._A new bill being discussed in the State House of Representatives could mean the end of marriage licenses in the state.

State Representative Todd Russ proposed

in hopes of separating government from marriage by allowing religious officials to sign off on a marriage license as opposed to a county judge. Russ came up with the idea after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Oklahoma's same sex marriage ban in October.

Republican Representative Todd Russ says under House Bill 1125, a marriage would have to be signed off by a preacher, minister, priest, rabbi or ecclesiastical dignitary.

"Put it back to what it was supposed to be and was originally a holy matrimony and a very solemn and spiritual vow," said Rep. Russ.

If approved, Russ says the roles of judges or retired judges would change. They would no longer be able to perform marriage ceremonies. Some strongly oppose it because of what they believe it symbolizes.

"It doesn't put the county officials into the business of condoning it or approving it or licensing it," said Rep. Russ.

The court clerk's office would take record of the marriage certificates given to couples that would be recognized by the state. Those not wanting to get married by a religious official could file an affidavit through the court clerk's office claiming common-law marriage.

"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," explained Rep. Russ.

Russ says this bill is a way for the State of Oklahoma to prove its independent rights as a state to make laws.

"Where the federal government does not have a right to come in and force its new definitions of what they believe on independent states. Not just Oklahoma, but any state," said Rep. Russ.

"Oklahoma law currently recognizes common law marriages where there is cohabitation coupled with evidence of an intent to act as married, and holding out to others as a married couple. Currently there is no method of filing an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage with the Court Clerk," said Marshall Dyer, Family law attorney.

was filed on Tuesday by State Representative Russ.