Politicians can perform marriage under Georgia House legislation

ATLANTA — You may now kiss ... my constituent?

The Georgia House voted Thursday to give some of the state’s top politicians the power to perform marriages in a surprise move that caught some lawmakers off guard.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s plan would allow the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House and constitutional officers to preside at weddings.

“It wasn’t very long ago I noticed our governor was asked to perform a marriage ceremony and he wasn’t allowed to do that,” Richardson said, explaining his motivation.

The effort was tacked onto a separate proposal designed to urge couples to get tested for sickle cell disease before marrying. It passed by a 155-1 vote and now moves to the Senate.

State Rep. Bobby Franklin, the lone critic, knocked lawmakers for interfering in nuptials.

“Marriage isn’t a function of the government — that’s a family function, not a civil government function,” said Franklin, a Marietta Republican.

“We don’t need to be saying who can or cannot perform marriages. We just are compounding the error.”

Georgia law now allows judges to preside over marriages, but doesn’t extend that power to elected officials.

Richardson’s plan would do so by allowing any current or former constitutional officer to perform weddings.

That means Georgia’s secretary of state, school superintendent, attorney general, and commissioners of labor, agriculture and insurance.

It also would include the House Speaker Pro Tem, the Senate President Pro Tem, the clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate.

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