Texas Messed with Us. We Will Mess Right Back.

August 22, 2019

When religious Americans get married, they can have their unions solemnized by an officiant who reflects their core beliefs and values. We believe that nonreligious Americans deserve that same right, which is why the Center for Inquiry trains and certifies Secular Celebrants and has waged and won groundbreaking legal victories in Indiana and Illinois that gave Secular Celebrants the authority to solemnize marriages in those states.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with us. A judge in Texas has just rejected CFI’s challenge to the state’s marriage laws, which allows for only religious clergy and judges to solemnize marriages. But we’re not done here, not by a longshot. The judge’s ruling is deeply flawed, and we plan to appeal.

We’re not the only ones who think the judge made a bad call.

The Washington Post just reported on our case, featuring the opinions of legal scholars such as Harvard’s Noah Feldman who said Texas’s law is “obviously unconstitutional because it gives a benefit to religious groups and denies that same benefit to comparable secular groups” and adds that this is an issue CFI could take all the way to the Supreme Court.

“There’s this growing number of secular people, of agnostic or atheistic people who follow no particular religion, who want to have their wedding reflect their values,” said CFI Vice President and General Counsel Nick Little. “So we’re saying, ‘Hey! Add an extra category of people who can solemnize marriages!’ ”

The Center for Inquiry vows to keep fighting for this case and this cause. In sickness and in health.

Read the Washington Post report and our official statement following the ruling.

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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 centerforinquiry.org.