Another Big Secular Celebrant Victory: Illinois!

January 13, 2017

One win begets another. The Center for Inquiry made history in 2014 when a federal judge ruled that CFI-trained Secular Celebrants cannot be prohibited from legally solemnizing marriages in the state of Indiana. Reversing a lower court’s decision that kept marriage solemnization within the exclusive purview of religious clergy and government, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declared that secular humanists have as much a right to a wedding solemnized by an officiant that shares their worldview as any religious person.

That milestone triumph in Indiana now serves as the foundation for CFI’s ongoing endeavor to see this same right acknowledged across the country, and last week saw the latest victory in that effort, as U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce ruled that CFI-trained Secular Celebrants were legally authorized to solemnize marriages in the state of Illinois.

This is particularly great news for Galen Broaddus, the plaintiff with CFI in the case, and as of now the only CFI-certified celebrant in Illinois. Fear not, in the coming weeks, CFI will hold trainings for new celebrants so that Galen won’t be alone.

CFI now looks to other states to recognize the equal status of the nonreligious and their right to be married by a celebrant that shares their worldview, and end the outmoded privileging of religion when it comes to this deeply meaningful life milestone. The hope is to see this resolved through legislation, and we’ll be eager to work with state lawmakers. If not, well, we’ll be back in court, and we’ll be ready.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at