2017-07-14 / Community

New bill will make it possible to get married on Saturday

It amends bill that ended weekend nuptials at county courthouses
By Hector Gonzalez

Why drive to Vegas?

For $143—$98 for the marriage license and $45 for the actual ceremony—a couple can get hitched quickly and inexpensively during the week at the Ventura County clerk’s office.

And now, as a result of Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin’s (D-Camarillo) new bill, Saturday ceremonies will likely make a comeback.

Saturday weddings, a decades old tradition at the Ventura County Government Center, came to an abrupt halt in January when a new law intended to make it easier for couples to tie the knot also included a provision that prohibits county judges and commissioners from officiating weddings on their days off.

That law, introduced by Assemblymember Evan Low (DCupertino), added current and former elected city and county officials to those who could legally perform a civil wedding ceremony, which the state of California calls “marriage solemnization.”

However, it also barred judges and commissioners from charging a fee or accepting a gift of value in exchange for performing weddings on their days off. In Ventura County, judges responded by refusing to work for free, effectively ending Saturday weddings at the government center.

That should soon change following the passage this week of Irwin’s bill restoring the ability of judges and commissioners to charge a “reasonable” and nominal fee to solemnize marriages on their days off.

That fee is usually about $45.

“It was a well-intentioned bill, but we found out fairly quickly that it also had this sort of glitch included in it,” Irwin said of Low’s bill.

Her bill, AB 430, which was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, is an “urgency statute” that went into effect immediately and supersedes the fee prohibition in Low’s bill.

“I actually was contacted by one of the judges, who told me this (Low’s bill) was going to be problematic,” Irwin said Tuesday. “Just as he predicted, people stopped getting married on the weekends in Ventura County.”

Judges and commissioners still cannot charge a fee or take any gifts of value for performing wedding ceremonies during their normal work hours. To do so is still a misdemeanor under Irwin’s bill.

But her law clears the way for officials to perform Saturday weddings again by letting them recoup at least some of the costs for their time and gasoline, Irwin said.

Calls to the county clerk’s office inquiring if and when judges might begin offering weekend weddings again were not returned by press time.

AB 430 adds even more ways for people to marry in California, already one of the easiest places to tie the knot.

Because of Low’s bill, couples here can get married by any former or current elected official, unless that official has been removed from office because they’ve committed an offense or been convicted of an offense that “involves moral turpitude, dishonesty, or fraud.”

Anyone over 18 who is an ordained minister for a religious institution registered with the secretary of state’s office can also marry couples.

And an acquaintance of the couple can do the deed by becoming deputized through the county for a day to perform a wedding ceremony.

For information about scheduling a civil wedding ceremony, call the county clerk’s office at (805) 654-2263 or visit http:// bit.ly/2l2hRZd.

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