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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 4, 2019 09:39 AM
From: Representative Jeanne McNeill
To: All House members
Subject: Updating Who Can Officiate Marriages
For most Pennsylvanians, their marriage is one of the most important aspects of their lives. However, some Pennsylvania couples have experienced anxiety and distress when the validity of their marriages have been thrown into question. A few years ago, a court ruling in York County declared a marriage officiated by a minister who was ordained online to be invalid.

Pennsylvania law needs to be updated to make it clear that couples can have the religious official of their choice preform their marriage without having to be concerned that their union will be declared invalid in the future. No one should have to be told after years of marriage that their union is no longer respected by the state of Pennsylvania because of the religious organization that officiated their marriage.

My bill would allow any individual of a religious body that is authorized by the rules of that religion to perform a marriage to be able to do so in Pennsylvania. My bill reflects Maryland’s current law and is very similar to language included in other states’ marriage laws such as Hawaii, New Jersey, North Dakota and Oregon. The number of couples who choose for a variety of different reasons to use ministers ordained online has been growing quickly in the past decade. It is imperative that we, as state representatives, work to protect the sanctity of these unions and the religious freedom of our constituents.

Introduced as HB1966