Judge Rules Atheist Group Cannot Perform Marriages
Posted by Mr DoctorE on December 4, 2012
A U.S. District judge has ruled against atheist organization the Center for Inquiry in its bid to strike down Indiana’s marriage statute as unconstitutional.
Marriage in Indiana is a two-step process: receiving a marriage license and making the marriage official. The state’s marriage statute specifies who can perform that second step, which includes the clergy of any religious group and certain government officials like mayors and judges. By disallowing celebrants from the Center for Inquiry to solemnize, the CFI claimed the state was favoring religion and making non-religious people unequal under the law.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker disagrees, saying the CFI’s complaint was about an inconvenience, not unconstitutionality. Barker says granting clergy the right to perform marriages is the kind of accommodation of religion the First Amendment protects, not a denial of rights to the nonreligious. She also rejected the claim that CFI and its non-religious members are a “suspect class” with a history of unequal treatment.