Group Says Judge Refused To Perform Secular Marriage

| by Katie Landoll
Wedding PlanningWedding Planning

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a complaint against a Kentucky judge who reportedly refused to perform a nonreligious marriage ceremony.

Mandy Heath and Jon Sellers were scheduled a wedding for the end of July, according to an FFRF press release. They planned to have the official marriage take place in the Trigg County courthouse of County Judge Executive Hollis Alexander, with a family ceremony the following day.

While making arrangements with the court clerk, Heath says she requested that the courthouse ceremony be completely secular.

The FFRF claims Heath later received a call from Alexander, who reportedly told her, “I include God in my ceremonies, and I won’t do one without him,” and that the couple should find another officiant for their ceremony.

In a post on the Friendly Atheist Facebook page, Heath wrote, “I just got a phone call from a judge in Kentucky refusing to marry us because I asked for a non religious ceremony.”

Heath then contacted FFRF, a nonprofit that advocates for the separation of church and state. In a letter to Alexander, FFRF staff attorney Andrew L. Seidel called the event “a very serious constitutional violation” that amounted to a religious endorsement.

In the letter and the press release, the FFRF claimed that Alexander, “as a government official, has an obligation to remain neutral on religious matters.”

“The bottom line is that by law, there must be a secular option for people seeking to get married,” wrote Seidel. “In Trigg County, you are that secular option.”

Trigg County and Alexander have not publicly commented on the issue at this time.

Sources: FFRF (2), Mandy Heath/Facebook / Photo credit: Flickr

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