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D.C. marriage bureau rejects same-sex Skype wedding

November 29, 2010 - 12:30 PM
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Sheila Alexander-Reid officiates from D.C. to Dallas (YouTube)

On Oct. 10, Mark Reed and Dante Walkup made history by marrying in D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal) at a ceremony in Texas (where it isn't). The arrangement took some technological finesse: As Reed and Walkup exchanged vows in a Dallas hotel, D.C. marriage officiant Sheila Alexander-Reid oversaw the ceremony from the District, linking up with the couple online via Skype. The "e-marriage" inspired coverage in the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine. Now, it's caught the attention of the D.C. marriage bureau.

"The D.C. marriage bureau kicked back the certificate we had filed," Alexander-Reid told me today. Alexander-Reid says that she and the couple both received letters from D.C. Superior Court stating that it had determined the marriage license filed following the Skype ceremony to be invalid.

"The return is invalid because it has come to the attention of the court that the subject contracting parties to the marriage and you, the officiant, did not all personally participate in a marriage ceremony performed within the jurisdictional and territorial limits of the District of Columbia," the letter reads. Alexander-Reid also received a fresh marriage license from the court. Alexander-Reid could use it to re-officiate a Reed-Walkup ceremony, should they choose to marry again in D.C., this time "with all parties . . . in physical attendance."


The Skype wedding.

The decision leaves the future of such "e-marriages"—which use technology to circumvent local marriage laws—up in the air. Alexander-Reid says that Reed and Walkup are currently "trying to figure out the next step" to stay married—and to preserve the Skype option for other couples. "I think it’s interesting they didn’t contact me or contact the couple" before invalidating the license, Alexander-Reid says. "The law is really kind of ambiguous" on the Skype issue, the officiant adds. "It doesn’t say all parties have to be present—just that the ceremony needs to be performed within the jurisdiction of D.C. And it was, technically."


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  1. TJ TJ

    TJ T

    Dec 01, 2010 - 08:12:33 AM

    Well, Sheila tried... :-/

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