What is marriage in Indiana? This sounds simple, and it is, but there is great misunderstanding about what exactly government marriage means. Today the meaning of marriage to the state has evolved into nothing more than a contract between two individuals with the contents of that contract controlled by Indiana to provide privileges, exemptions, immunities and benefits which are not equally available to every other individual in the state.
HB 1163 is described to; “ Eliminates the requirements that: (1) individuals obtain a marriage license before being married; (2) a marriage be solemnized by an individual specified by state law; and (3) a marriage license be filed with a circuit court clerk and the state department of health. Provides for marriage by marriage contract by any two individuals who are competent to contract in Indiana or otherwise permitted to marry in Indiana.”
The Indiana Constitution contains no article defining what marriage is and authority is specifically denied to Indiana by ”Section 23. The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.” We are all guaranteed protection of our individual right to free association including with whom we desire to share our lives.
Indiana has controlled who an individual may marry by Code now HB 1163 proposes major changes to sections of current Indiana family law. Repealed is: ”Same sex marriages prohibited Sec. 1. (a) Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female. (b) A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.”
Added is a lengthy section Civil Recognition of Marriage which specifies what makes a marriage legal by Indiana standards. “Civil Recognition of Marriage Sec. 1. A marriage is legally created and shall be recognized for all legal purposes in Indiana if: (1) the manner in which the marriage is entered into complies with the law governing marriage in Indiana that is in force at the time of the marriage’s formation; and (2) under the law governing marriage in Indiana that is in force at the time of the marriage’s formation, the parties to the marriage have the general capacity to enter into a contract in Indiana or are otherwise permitted by Indiana law to marry.” It also allows additional procedures not required by this article to be part of the ceremony.
Next it “does not prohibit a religious organization from imposing additional procedures or other requirements for individuals to be considered married for the religious purposes of the religious organization”. Exactly where does the Constitution state Indiana would have the authority to prohibit any religion from imposing religious requirements to sanctify a marriage?
The Code is repealed specifying “Authority to Solemnize Marriages” which includes a member of the clergy, such as a minister, priest, bishop, archbishop or rabbi” as well as other specified religious and government agent individuals. This would mean that a marriage contract is the only recognition of marriage considered by Indiana. A religious marriage ceremony would not be recognized by the government as marriage for legal purposes. This would end the dispute of religions being forced to perform marriages unless sanctioned by their religious doctrine.
Only a civil marriage contract drafted and executed under the laws of Indiana would be recognized in Indiana for Indiana residents. Under a chapter covering “Formation of Marriage” two individuals who are not prohibited from marrying for a reason set forth in this article may “enter into a marriage contract in conformity with this article”. The marriage contract must be in writing, individuals must be competent to enter into a contract. The contract must be signed in the presence of each other and two witnesses must sign and attest under penalties of perjury to specified facts.
The marriage contract is conditional upon there being no provisions which Indiana determines would void the contract. These conditions are listed in the New Chapter “Void Marriage Contract Provisions; Modifications of Marriage Contracts”. Also a New Chapter addresses “Voidable Marriage Contract Provisions”.
In Indiana, marriage is as it always has been nothing more than a contract between two individuals and the state with the state controlling from formation to dissolution. Except for the necessary repealed language to correct the definition of marriage the remainder of the bill adds to code necessary requirements on contract formation and inclusion of mandatory requirements leaving the majority of the Marriage Code intact.
HB 1163 relieves the individuals from marrying only another individual approved by Indiana, applying for a state license, paying certain fees and recording the license. Instead, individuals have permission to marry through a marriage contract. This state approved contract can then be: ”submitted, in place of a marriage license, to an entity requesting proof of marriage.” This marriage contract will not come out of thin air, someone must create it being certain it is in full compliance with the laws mandated by Indiana. It then must be executed according to Indiana requirements.