Assemblyman UPENDRA J. CHIVUKULA
District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)
Authorizes certified celebrants to solemnize marriages and civil unions.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning marriages and civil unions and amending R.S.37:1-13.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. R.S.37:1-13 is amended to read as follows:
37:1-13. Authorization to solemnize marriages and civil unions.
Each judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, each judge of a federal district court, United States magistrate, judge of a municipal court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of a tax court, retired judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, or judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, the former County Court, the former County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, or the former County District Court who has resigned in good standing, surrogate of any county, county clerk and any mayor or the deputy mayor when authorized by the mayor, or chairman of any township committee or village president of this State, [and] every [minister] member of the clergy of every religion and any civil celebrant who is trained and certified to solemnize marriages or civil unions from an established non-denominational or educational non-profit organization dedicated to training such individuals, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages or civil unions between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation or civil union; and every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join together in marriage or civil union such persons according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.
(cf: P.L.2006, c.103, s.17)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
Under current law, marriages may be solemnized by various public officials and by “every minister of every religion.”
This bill would add to this list of individuals any civil celebrant who is trained and certified to solemnize marriages or civil unions from an established non-denominational or educational non-profit organization dedicated to training such individuals would be authorized to solemnize marriages or civil unions in New Jersey.
The non-sectarian celebrant movement began in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970’s. According to the website of one of these organizations, the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, celebrants are trained there to officiate at many life events, including engagements, weddings, baby welcomings, adoptions, anniversaries, funerals, memorials, and other “transition ceremonies.” The organization states that 400 certified celebrants in North America and Europe officiate at over 3,000 ceremonies a year.
In addition to authorizing certified celebrants to solemnize marriages, the bill would also modernize the language referring to “every minister of every religion,” changing the phrase to “every member of the clergy of every religion.”