“Nones” to Argue for Equality in Solemnizing Marriages in Indiana Court

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2012
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

Arguments in a court case that will decide the equality of Indiana’s nonreligious in the solemnizing of marriages will be heard Monday at 10 am ET in Indianapolis. In May of this year, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) filed a complaint in US District Court challenging a state law that privileges religious institutions in the solemnizing of marriages.

Indiana code 31-11-6-1 specifies that marriages in the state may be solemnized only by a small number of government officials, or else by clergy or other persons associated with religious organizations.

CFI, a national organization representing the nonreligious and religiously unaffiliated (a group that now makes up 1 in 5 Americans) is asserting that the law is unconstitutional on the grounds that it allows persons of faith to be married by religious leaders of their choice, while denying similar opportunities to those who desire a nonreligious solemnization performed by a Secular Celebrant. This represents a clear preference for religion over non-religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and denies rights secured by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“More and more Americans believe that everyone, regardless of gender, race, or religious beliefs, has the right to decide who they will be married to. But it’s also time to recognize that couples should have the right to decide who they will be married by,” said Reba Boyd Wooden, executive director of CFI’s Indiana branch and a Secular Celebrant. “I have high hopes that the court will recognize the right of secular Americans — and all those who would opt not to have a religious wedding — to celebrate their unions in the manner of their choosing, just as any person of faith may do.”

The arguments in the case of Center for Inquiry, Inc., et al. v Clerk, Marion Circuit Court, et al. are scheduled for 10:00 am ET, Monday, October 22 in United States District Court Southern District of Indiana Indianapolis Division with Federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker presiding. Kenneth J. Falk, Legal Director of ACLU of Indiana is the attorney for the plaintiffs.

Center for Inquiry established a program to train Secular Celebrants in December 2009. Currently there are 23 Secular Celebrants who have been trained and certified by CFI. Eight are from Indiana and others hail from 10 other states and the District of Columbia. Since Center for Inquiry is not a religious organization, these Secular Celebrants cannot solemnize marriages in Indiana, or anywhere in the United States, under this certification alone.

For more information about the Center for Inquiry Secular Celebrant program visit https://centerforinquiry.org/education/.

The official complaint is available at https://centerforinquiry.org/docs/DOC025.PDF.

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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.