Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Letter to the Editor
It seems that many people have an uninformed view of marriage as stated in many recent letters to the editor in the newspaper.
Marriage is indeed the government's business. I believe hundreds of years ago, all marriages would have been conducted by the church and records kept by those institutions.
Upon the founding of the United States, laws were passed establishing the civil aspects of marriage, and the way in which all vital records were handled was standardized in the late 1800s.
One of the first things that a couple does in the marriage process is to go to their municipality and obtain a marriage license. There are a number of individuals who are authorized to conduct marriages in the state of Maine in addition to members of the clergy, notary publics being one of the most common.
After the marriage ceremony, in which proper signatures are obtained on the license, it is returned to the municipality. It is then filed with the town or city and with state Office of Vital Records.
Without this procedure being followed, the couple would not be legally married.
So, yes, the "government" is involved in the marriage process and marriage is a legal contract.
Without this being done properly, a person would have no legal right to any benefits following the death of a spouse.
Having been a town clerk for many years, I am well-acquainted with this process.