Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Sanctity Of Marriage

In Montana, you don’t even have to bother showing up at your own wedding to legally tie the knot:
“Ceremony No. 1,” says the judge, Heidi Ulbricht. That would be the marriage between two members of the Air Force far, far removed from this room in the Flathead County Courthouse. The real groom is 7,300 miles away, in Qatar, while the real bride is merely 1,700 miles away, in Kentucky.

“We are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses to join in holy matrimony this man and this woman, who have applied for and received a marriage license from the state,” the judge says.

Turning to Sarah Knapton, 22, college student and professional proxy bride, she asks: “Will you have this man by proxy to be your lawful wedded husband, and with him to live together in holy matrimony pursuant to the laws of God and this state?”

“I do,” answers Ms. Knapton, elbow on table, chin in hand.

“Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him both in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keep you only unto him, so long as you both shall live?”

“I do,” Ms. Knapton intones again.

The judge now asks these life-altering questions of Kyle Kirkland, 22, mason and professional proxy groom, who is signing various marriage documents. He says, “I do,” twice without looking up once.

By the virtue of the authority vested in her, Judge Ulbricht pronounces an absent military couple husband and wife, all in a Montana minute.

Wow, how strange. Apparently this law allowing a “double proxy” marriage has been on the books for decades; even stranger, only last year did the legislature pass the requirement that either bride or groom be a Montana resident, or else be on active duty in the military.

I guess it’s nice that there’s a state that will marry people who are unable to be together because of their military deployment. But I also think it sucks that there are thousands of people who would like to get married, and will happily show up at their own wedding, but they can’t because of some outdated views on marriage. Yet we’ve got a system in place to legally marry couples who don’t even occupy the same time zone.