I Am Now the Plaintiff in a Lawsuit Over Secular Celebrants

By Ed Brayton

I am now one of two plaintiffs in a lawsuit we filed yesterday in the U.S. Court for the Western District of Michigan. That suit seeks to force the state of Michigan to allow humanist secular celebrants like me (certified and everything) to officiate and solemnize weddings for those who want such an officiant.

This case has been in the works for a long time. We have lobbied the state legislature for three years to change the law but have gotten absolutely nowhere with it. Our state legislature is controlled by Republicans, who have a supermajority in both houses, and no one wants to touch such a bill. So we are taking the legal route, following the blueprint that worked in Illinois and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals a few years ago. The district and appeals courts in that case forced the states of that circuit — Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin — to recognize secular celebrants as having the same authority to solemnize marriages as the clergy of any faith automatically have under the law.

As I said in the press release we sent out about the suit, I think that secular-minded people in the state should have their wishes respected in terms of the person they’d like to officiate important rituals like weddings and funerals and I look forward to being able to provide that for them when this suit is finished. I have gone through the process of being certified as a secular celebrant by the Center for Inquiry. My co-plaintiff in the case is my dear friend Jennifer Beahan, who is the Executive Director of CFI-Michigan.

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