Legal Question in Discrimination Law in Virginia

Can a public official perform a marriage for a fee in the state of Virginia, i.e., a clerk, a magistrate, or a judge?

In Alexandria, I am a registered minister, but the clerk's office tells the clients that I send in that only the registered list of officiants are legally qualifed to perform their ceremonies. I lost 4 couples today because of the clerk's comments. They have a list of 6 people who are lawyers that they send the applicants to which means that ministers are left out in the cold even if they are registered in Alexandria. I thought that there was something in the Vrginia Constitution which prohibits officers of the court from performing marriages for profit or doing any other work for profit. Help. I want to sue my county clerk's office. I am a black female.

Asked on 8/27/10, 7:15 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Hendrickson Law Office Michael E. Hendrickson

I am not aware of any provision in the Virginia Constitution bearing on this matter.

Nevertheless, the operative Virginia statute appears to be Va. Code Sec.

20-23 which states: When a minister of any religious denomination shall

produce before the circuit court of any county or city in this Commonwealth or

before the judge of such court or before the clerk of such court at any time,

proof of his ordination and of his being in regular communication with the religious society of which he is a reputed member, or proof that he holds a local

minister's license and is serving as a regularly appointed pastor in his

denomination, such court or the judge thereof, or the clerk of such court at any time, may make an order authorizing such minister to celebrate the rites of matrimony in the Commonwealth. Any order made under this section may be rescinded at any time by the court or by the judge thereof.

The statute, however, makes no reference to the charging of fees for

the minister's conducting the ceremony.

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Answered on 9/03/10, 10:17 am
Michael Hendrickson Law Office Michael E. Hendrickson

Further comment: Va. Code Sec. 20-25 describes the persons other than ministers who may be authorized to perform marriages in the Commonwealth.

And, Va. Code Sec. 20-27 deals with the issue of fees which may be charged

which apparently are up to $50 per ceremony + applicable travel fees to and

from the marriage rite venue.

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Answered on 9/03/10, 10:28 am

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