State Veterans’ Affairs Committee Official Wants To Change Marriage License Law
By Julia Bergman
February 18, 2016
Hartford — State Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the legislature's Veterans' Affairs Committee, is proposing to change the state law that requires both parties to be present when applying for a marriage license.
Hennessy would like the law to require only one person to be present.
Kathleen Salvio, whose daughter Hanna, 22, is marrying a Marine in December, brought the issue to Hennessy's attention.
A New Britain resident, Kathleen Salvio is the scheduler and executive assistant for House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden.
Hanna Salvio's fiancé is stationed at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base in North Carolina, and is unable to take leave until right before the wedding.
Kathleen Salvio said that her daughter asked that her fiancé not be named given his role in the Marines.
The couple plan to marry in Stonington on Dec. 18, and Salvio's fiancé isn't able to return until Dec. 17, a Saturday, when the town clerk's office won't be open.
While making a to-do list for the wedding and a time frame of when various tasks needed to be completed, Kathleen said, they stumbled upon the state law requiring both parties to appear in person to apply for a marriage license.
The license must be obtained through the town where the marriage is taking place. The license is valid for 65 days from the date of application.
Betsy Moukawsher, Town of Groton clerk, said she is against Hennessy's proposal and would testify against it "if it actually makes it anywhere."
The problem with only requiring one of the applicants to appear in person, Moukawsher said, is that there's no way to verify who the person is marrying or that the person is at least 18 years old.
The purpose of the law, Moukawsher said, is to ensure that it's two people who want to get married. She said she's never had a couple complain about the law.
Moukawsher would, however, be open to clerks' offices having some weekend hours to accommodate couples who can't make it during regular weekday hours.
If the law doesn't change, "we don't know," Kathleen Salvio said of the wedding plans.
She said the couple might have to get married "ceremonially" on Sunday.
They could apply for a marriage license on Monday and have a justice of the peace marry them, she said.
While he hasn't heard from military members or their spouses about the issue, Bob Ross, executive director of the state's Office of Military Affairs, called Hennessy's proposal a "great idea," adding that the public often doesn't think about state laws that require someone to appear in person.
State laws pertaining to marriage licenses vary across the country.
Neighboring Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island all require both applicants to appear in person.
Texas allows any adult or the other applicant to apply for a marriage license on behalf of an absent applicant who "is a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in another country in support of combat or another military operation."
The absentee must provide a notarized affidavit confirming his or her full name, place of birth, and that he or she has not been divorced within the last 30 days, among other details.
Double-proxy marriages are legal in Montana, which allows two paid proxies to stand in for a couple and exchange a few perfunctory "I do's," no kissing involved.
News reports suggest that mostly military couples have taken advantage of the Montana law.