Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Attorney General Undecided on Appeal to Athiest Celebrant Rulilng

The Indiana Attorney General’s office says it hasn’t decided whether to appeal a ruling allowing atheist leaders to solemnize marriages in the state.  That’s despite the group that brought the lawsuit – atheist group Center for Inquiry – announcing its victory Thursday.  Still, CFI Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden still says she’s ready to perform marriages.

Indiana’s marriage statute regulates who can make a marriage official – any religious clergy and certain government officials like mayors and judges. The Center for Inquiry filed a lawsuit in 2012 challenging the statute, saying it discriminates against non-religious people. 

A U-S District Court judge ruled against CFI but last month the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.  And CFI announced that the state declined to appeal the 7th Circuit’s ruling, clearing the way for secular celebrants to officiate marriages.  

But the Indiana Attorney General’s office says the District Court has only issued a narrow order directing the state to allow CFI-certified celebrants to solemnize marriages. 

CFI Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden says even that narrow order means a lot to Hoosiers, and not just atheists.

“There’s people that, even though they’re religious, don’t want a religious ceremony because some of the churches and so on require counseling,” Boyd said. “They require that you do it in the church; they have a bunch of strings attached to doing the religious weddings and some of these people don’t want to go through that.”

The state has 90 days from the 7th Circuit’s ruling to appeal.  In a statement, CFI apologized for creating confusion and says it hopes the state still opts not to continue the case.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.