BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2761


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          Date of Hearing:  May 3, 2016


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY


                                  Mark Stone, Chair


          AB 2761  
          (Low) - As Amended April 25, 2016


                                  PROPOSED CONSENT


          SUBJECT:  Marriage: solemnization


          KEY ISSUE:  SHOULD FORMER ELECTED OFFICIALS, LIKE FORMER JUDGES,  
          BE PERMITTED TO SOLEMNIZE MARRIAGES AND SHOULD THE REQUIREMENT  
          THAT SOME, BUT NOT ALL, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RECEIVE SPECIFIC  
          INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE THEY CAN SOLEMNIZE MARRAIGES BE ELIMINATED?


                                      SYNOPSIS


          A marriage in California is not valid unless it is solemnized by  
          an authorized individual.  Under current law, marriages may be  
          solemnized by authorized persons of any religious denomination;  
          judges, commissioners, and magistrates; and, while they hold  
          those offices, California legislators, constitutional officers,  
          elected mayors, county supervisors and members of Congress.   
          Also some of those allowed to solemnize marriages, including  
          legislators and constitutional officers, may do so with no  
          pre-conditions, while others, including county supervisors and  
          mayors, are required to obtain and review instructional  
          materials before solemnizing any marriages.








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          This bill expands the list of those authorized to solemnize  
          marriages to include former California legislators,  
          constitutional officers, members of Congress and city and county  
          elected officials.  This bill also deletes the requirement that  
          county supervisors, mayors and city clerks must first obtain and  
          review instructional materials before solemnizing any marriages.  
           The author states that this bill brings needed uniformity to  
          the solemnization rules.  This bill has no known opposition.


          SUMMARY:  Expands who may solemnize marriages in California to  
          include former elected officials.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Permits a former member of the Legislature, constitutional  
            officer of this state or a former member of Congress from this  
            state to solemnize a marriage.


          2)Permits a person who holds or formerly held a city or county  
            elected office to solemnize a marriage.


          3)Eliminates the requirement that before a county supervisor,  
            mayor or city clerk of a charter city, as provided, may  
            solemnize a marriage he or she must first obtain and review  
            from the county clerk all available instructions for marriage  
            solemnization.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)For a marriage to be valid, requires the consent of the  
            parties, followed by the issuance of a license and  
            solemnization, as provided.  (Family Code Section 300.  All  
            further statutory references are to that code unless otherwise  








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            stated.)

          2)Provides that a marriage may be solemnized by authorized  
            persons of any religious denomination, by California  
            legislators, constitutional officers and members of Congress,  
            while those persons hold those offices, and by specified  
            justices, judges, and magistrates, both current and retired.   
            (Section 400.)  

           3)Provides that a county supervisor, elected mayor and city  
            clerk, as specified, may solemnize a marriage while he or she  
            holds that office.  Further requires that the supervisor,  
            mayor or city clerk must first obtain and review from the  
            county clerk all available instructions for marriage  
            solemnization before the supervisor, mayor or city clerk may  
            solemnize a marriage.  (Section 400.1.)  

           4)Provides that the county clerk is designated as a commissioner  
            of civil marriages for each county.  Allows the commissioner  
            of civil marriages to appoint deputy commissioners of civil  
            marriages who may solemnize marriages under the direction of  
            the commissioner of civil marriages and perform other duties  
            directed by the commissioner.  (Section 401.)  

           FISCAL EFFECT:  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.


          COMMENTS:  A marriage is not valid unless it is solemnized by an  
          authorized individual.  Under current law, marriages may be  
          solemnized by authorized persons of any religious denomination,  
          judges, commissioners, and magistrates.  In 1998, this list was  
          expanded to include California Legislators and constitutional  
          officers and members of Congress from California, during the  
          time period that those individuals hold those offices.  (AB 1094  
          (Judiciary), Chap. 932, Stats. 1998.)  In 2010, elected mayors  
          were also authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies, as long  
          as they first receive training from the county clerk.  (AB 2600  
          (Ma & Lieu), Chap. 268, Stats. 2010.)  In 2012, county  








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          supervisors were authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies,  
          again as long as they first receive training from the county  
          clerk.  (SB 991 (Runner), Chap. 63, Stats. 2012.)  Finally, in  
          2014, city clerks were added, again as long as they first  
          receive training from the county clerk.  (AB 1525 (Lowenthal),  
          Chap. 450, Stats. 2014.)  


          This bill again expands the list of those authorized to  
          solemnize marriages, this time to include former California  
          legislators, constitutional officers, members of Congress and  
          city and county elected officials.  This bill also deletes the  
          requirement that county supervisors, mayors and city clerks must  
          first obtain and review instructional materials before  
          solemnizing any marriages.  

          In support of the bill, the author states:

               Not only do legislators have the opportunity to enact  
               policies to improve our state, they also have the  
               opportunity to solemnize weddings.  It's a unique  
               opportunity that only a select few are able to perform.   
               However, legislators are only able to do this while they  
               are in office.  Should a sitting member of the Legislature  
               wish to officiate a wedding after his or her term in  
               office, one would have to register with a county office to  
               become a "deputy for the day," pay a fee to the county  
               office, and in some cases, attend a class.  

               The law is inconsistent as it allows a retired California  
               judge or commissioner and a retired US judge or magistrate  
               to solemnize a wedding even after they've left their  
               judgeship. 

               This bill simply brings uniformity to the Family Code,  
               allowing a former member of the California Legislature or  
               constitutional officer, or former Member of Congress to  
               officiate a wedding.









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          After a 15-year hodgepodge expansion of who may solemnize  
          marriages, this bill seeks to provide some uniformity to the  
          rules.  Like judges, elected officials will now be able to  
          solemnize marriages after they have left office.  This includes  
          former legislators, constitutional officers, members of Congress  
          and city and county elected officials, all from California.   
          However, since city clerks' authority to solemnize marriages is  
          indeed based on the position they hold, they will still only be  
          permitted to do so while holding their office.  Additionally,  
          this bill deletes the requirement that some officials, but not  
          all, are required to receive instruction before solemnizing a  
          marriage.  It is unclear why, for example, mayors and county  
          supervisors need that instruction, but a member of the  
          Legislature or a religious official does not.  This bill  
          eliminates the instruction requirement for all parties.   
          However, it is still assumed that if an authorized individual  
          does not understand what is required to solemnize a marriage, he  
          or she will learn what is required before officiating at the  
          ceremony.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          None on file




          Opposition


          None on file








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          Analysis Prepared by:Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916) 319-2334