Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Verdict

Publication Date

5-14-2013

Abstract

Rabbi? Priest? Imam? Justice of the peace? These are the usual suspects with authority under state marriage laws to preside over wedding ceremonies. Should a minister ordained online with the click of a button be added to the list? Whether ministers ordained by the Universal Life Church (“ULC”), an online ministry with more than 20 million ministers, can lawfully preside over weddings is a recurring question in lawsuits.

In a recent opinion, in Oswald v. Oswald, an appellate court in New York suggested that a ULC marriage was valid. This might not seem surprising, but it departs from three other cases in New York that have held the opposite, one of which was a fellow appellate court. In this column, I’ll explain the new ruling and the split of opinion that New York law now reflects.

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