The third party in our marriage

Confession: I've missed more than one deadline in recent weeks.  So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I had a nightmare last night, in which Mr. HC and I forget to get our marriage license -- indeed, didn't even know we had to get a marriage license -- and thus couldn't be legally married on our wedding day.  [Gulp.]

Of course, as soon as I got up, I researched what we would need to do to get said marriage license, and for you California brides and grooms, here's what I found out, courtesy of the California Department of Public Health:
  • You do not need to be a California resident to marry in California.
  • To marry in California, the two parties may not be already married to each other or other individuals. 
  • Marriage by proxy is NOT allowed in California. Family Code, Section 420(a) requires the two parties, marriage officiant and witness if applicable, be physically present together in the same location for the marriage to be performed.
  • Blood tests are NOT required to obtain a marriage license in California.
  • Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in California. 
  • If you have been married before, you will need to know the specific date your last marriage ended, and how it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity). 
  • Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will no longer be valid. You must purchase a new license.
  • California Family Code, Section 400 states the persons authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are as follows: A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination; a judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state; a judge or magistrate who has resigned from office; any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States: a justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court, a judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior, a judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court; a United States magistrate or retired magistrate; a legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office. 
  • All fees and hours of issuance for a marriage license may vary by county. 
  • The person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable within 10 days of the date of the ceremony. 
For those of you getting married in Los Angeles, the LA County Registrar allows you to apply for your license online.  Both spouses-to-be, however, must show up in person to pick up the license, which costs $70.

Doing this research reminded me of how deeply involved the government is in the institution of marriage.  The state decides, amongst other things, who you may marry, who may solemnize the marriage, and who must be present when the marriage takes place.  And, of course, the state and federal governments also determine the rights, privileges, and immunities of marriage. All of this is to say that marriage, despite seeming incredibly private and intimate, is deeply political.  

Here's the way I'm thinking about it: getting married is tantamount to an invitation to the government to regulate just a little bit more of our day-to-day lives.  And considering how much time I've put into perfecting the guest list for our wedding, it's only right to commit just as much energy to deciding what those regulations will look like -- or, at the very least, to choosing who ought to be making those regulations.  

So no matter what your political leanings are, if you haven't yet registered to vote, please do so today. Some states' registration deadlines may have already passed.  Go here for state-by-state info.

My name is Hot Cocoa, and I endorse this message.

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