Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weird Marriage Laws and How I've Flouted Them (Or Not)

I found a very funny article on MSN’s “glo” website entitled “10 Obscure Marriage Laws”. It lists a series of odd laws regarding matrimony that are still on the books in various states. I found it amusing that I’ve even violated a few of them myself. Here’s the list, so you can decide if you could get thrown in the clink on a technicality.

1. Montana: Marriage By Proxy
There are still four states which allow marriage by proxy, but Montana is the only one that allows double marriage by proxy – in other words, neither the bride NOR the groom has to show up. Granted, both single and double proxy rules are limited to members of the U.S. military (remember Richie and Mary Beth’s wedding on “Happy Days”?), but still, you’d think that one of them might like to be their for the big day.

Verdict: Herb and I both showed up for our wedding, so I’m definitely not guilty.


2. Arkansas: Age Limits

The law was actually corrected in 2008, but prior to that anyone under the age of 18 could get married with parental consent. Yes, “anyone”, which meant that technically infants could get hitched if their parents were crazy enough to sign off on it.

Verdict: I was pushing 40 when I got married, so this is another not guilty for me

3. Delaware: Prank Weddings

Reasonable legal reason for applying for an annulment can include such things as marrying “under duress” or “without capacity to consent”, but Delaware also offers the option, “because of a jest or dare”. It makes me wonder what situation made lawmakers think such a rule was necessary. (Britney Spears, maybe?) With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Verdict: No one twisted my arm to marry Herb, I was stone-cold sober at the time, and I certainly didn’t marry him because of a jest or dare, so I’m three for three on the not guilty.

4. Kentucky: Four-Time Remarriage

I know of several people who’ve divorced and then re-married the same person. (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton come to mind.) I can even conceive of a couple divorcing and re-marrying twice. But FOUR TIMES? That seems a little ridiculous. Apparently the Kentucky legislature agreed, because they made it illegal to remarry the same man four times.

Verdict: I have no intention of divorcing Herb once, but if I did I’d remarry him in the same breath. But it wouldn’t happen four times, so yet another not guilty

5. Mississippi: Manly Husband

The city of Truro, Mississippi, requires a man to prove himself manly by hunting and killing either six blackbirds or three crows before he can be legally married.

Verdict: Although his manliness has never been in doubt in my mind, to my knowledge Herb has never killed a single bird, so I guess we get a guilty verdict on this one.

6. Massachusetts: Hotel Nudity

Salem, Massachusetts, has a law on the books prohibiting married couples from sleeping in the nude in a rented room. I’m not sure whether this is somehow based on the Salem witch hysteria or if some lawmaker is a bit of a germophobe.

Verdict: Uh, let’s just say I’m pleading nolo contendere on this one.

7. South Carolina: Fake Proposal

This is one of the most difficult laws to prove of the entire list. It prohibits a man over age 16 from proposing marriage without meaning it. Apparently the law was intended to prevent a man from seducing a woman by promising to “make an honest woman of her” without any intention of doing so.

Verdict: Anyone who’s seen our proposal video will have no doubt that Herb meant it, Not guilty!

8. Kansas: Poor Treatment of Your Mother-in-Law


Mother-in-law jokes have abounded ever since there have been mothers-in-law. But in Witchita, Kansas, there’s a law on the books that mistreating your mother-in-law cannot be used as grounds for divorce. Somehow I suspect that any man who treats his mother-in-law that poorly will exhibit plenty of other reasons for divorce.

Verdict: Herb and I each have awesome mothers-in-law who each raised us to respect our families, so we get another clear not guilty verdict.

9. Connecticut: Kissing on Sunday


In Hartford, Connecticut it’s illegal to kiss your wife on the Lord’s Day.

Verdict: I kiss Herb good morning every day, and Sunday is not exception. We’ve even been known to kiss each other in church. Big fat guilty!

10. Louisiana: Psychic Officiants


There are plenty of classes of people who can legally perform marriage ceremonies: pastors, priests, judges, justices of the peace, ship’s captains, even ordinary folks who get a one-day license. But in New Orleans, it’s illegal for a palm reader, fortune teller, or mystic to officiate at a wedding. I guess anyone who might be able to see your future could suddenly have a very uncomfortable change-of-heart mid-ceremony.

Verdict: To my knowledge, Pastor Boylan doesn’t have second sight, so we get one final not guilty.

The bottom line is that as long as we stay out of Hartford on Sundays and never rent a room in Salem, we’ll be safe from prosecution. I think I can manage that.


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