"Kim and Bill Wedding" by Stephen Graham / CC BY 2.0

Lawsuit targets Texas law allowing only judges, clergy to do weddings

Nov 20, 2018

By Chuck Lindell

A federal lawsuit filed by two Texans, including an Austin resident, seeks to overturn a state law that requires weddings to be performed by a member of the clergy or by a judge.

Joined by the Center for Inquiry — a national nonprofit that seeks to foster a secular society based on “reason, science and humanist values” — the lawsuit argues that the clergy requirement violates the First Amendment by creating a government-sponsored preference for religion over nonreligion.

“It turns out that there are quite a few secular folks, even in Texas, who would prefer to have their own way of celebrating this event. The fact that we’re barred by law from doing that seems unfair,” said Steve Bratteng, director of the Center for Inquiry’s Austin office.

Bratteng, trained by the center to perform weddings as a “secular celebrant,” said he joined the lawsuit because he’s had to decline several requests to marry couples who wanted a secular ceremony without religious overtones.

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