Secular Celebrant Bill Passes Oregon House, Would Allow Nonreligious to Solemnize Marriages

For Immediate Release: May 19, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785

Measure Championed by the Center for Inquiry Easily Clears House with 35 Votes in Favor

Today the Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow nonreligious Oregonians to have their marriages solemnized by a certified Secular Celebrant. The measure, championed by the secular humanist Center for Inquiry (CFI), passed with 35 votes.

Introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick and supported by the Center for Inquiry, House Bill 3483 would add organizations “whose members subscribe to secular values, beliefs and practices” to the list of those currently authorized to officially solemnize marriages in the state. This would mean that nonreligious Oregonians, or anyone who does not wish to have their marriage officiated by clergy or a government functionary, will have the option of being married by a Secular Celebrant, such as those trained and certified by CFI.

History was made last year in Indiana when a federal judge ruled that the state could not bar CFI’s Secular Celebrants from solemnizing marriages, with Judge Frank Easterbrook declaring it unacceptable that the nonreligious “are shut out as long as they are sincere in following an ethical system that does not worship any god, adopt any theology, or accept a religious label.” More information on the Indiana case is available here.

“This is a real victory for Oregonians of all persuasions — whether religious or nonreligious — who believe in equal treatment under the law,” said Brian Harvey, executive director of CFI-Portland, a branch of the Center for Inquiry. “The people of Oregon who are living fulfilling, ethical lives without religion deserve the same rights as those who are religious. This includes the right to have their marriages solemnized by someone who shares their life stance. No one would deny a religious couple’s right to be married by a representative of their worldview, and we who hold dear the principles of science and reason ask for nothing more and nothing less.”

Added Harvey, “We trust that the Senate and governor will show the same wisdom exemplified today by these 35 legislators in the House, and make this bill the law of the land.”

Harvey was among the experts who delivered testimony before a committee hearing on HB 3483 earlier this year. Video of his testimony is available here.

Brian Harvey can be reached directly at 503.830.6193 and

More information on CFI’s Secular Celebrant program is available here.

CFI-Portland is the Center for Inquiry’s local branch for Portland, Oregon. Its website is

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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