Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) plan to introduce legislation that would authorize the governor to designate any person to solemnize a marriage.
As it currently stands, only the General Assembly can authorize individuals to solemnize a marriage.
“It is an inconvenience to the people of Rhode Island that they need to seek a formal act of law just because they want a friend or family member to officiate at their wedding,” said Leader McCaffrey. “Votes and committee meetings are also a very inefficient way to handle what amounts to a clerical task. Getting married should be a joyous occasion, and there’s no reason the state needs to bog it down with red tape.”
The act would allow the governor to designate any person who is eligible to vote to solemnize a marriage within the state on a particular day and within a particular city or town. The authorization would expire upon completion of the marriage. A fee in the amount of $25 would be a prerequisite and would be payable to the secretary of state, or a fee of $20 for applications that are submitted electronically.
“This bill will modernize the process by placing it online and ensuring that it’s available to all Rhode Islanders year round,” said Whip Kazarian. “Some time ago, I was contacted by a constituent in July about their nuptials scheduled for September. Unfortunately, the General Assembly had already concluded its session for the year and there was no other alternative possible. It broke my heart when I had to tell my constituent there was nothing I could do to ensure their perfect wedding with the officiant of their choice and this is why this legislation is needed to modernize our system in Rhode Island.”