News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Stephanie Salter

July 10, 2011

STEPHANIE SALTER: Marriage? There’s an app for that ... but it’s tricky

As I watched all the happy people celebrating passage of New York’s same-sex marriage law, I couldn’t help but project to a time when Indiana adopts a similar statute. (It will happen, Hoosiers, even if we are the last state in the union to accept it.) What a lot of gay women and men may not know is, far out on the edges of the institution of getting married, away from formal wedding clothes, flower arrangements, ministers, vows and disk jockeys who program garter-removal music, there is the somewhat goofy process of applying for a marriage license at your local county courthouse.

My new husband, Bill, jokes that the Indiana application form “is really an intelligence test” because, if you answer “yes” to four out of the five specific yes-no questions on the form, you either don’t understand what you’re doing or you secretly don’t want to get married.

Take question No. 1 that is asked of all prospective brides and grooms: “Are you now or have you ever been adjudged to be mentally incompetent? If answer is ‘yes’ has the adjudication been removed?”

If that is not tricky enough, take questions No. 3 and 4: “Are you now under the influence of an alcoholic beverage?” and “Are you now under the influence of a narcotic drug?”

Studying the form as Bill and I sat side by side in the Vigo County Clerk’s marriage license office, I chuckled and said to the woman taking our application, “I bet you don’t get a whole lot of people marking ‘yes’ and admitting they’re drunk.”

She looked up from her typing and was all game face, no smiles.

“No, we don’t,” she said. “But if they did, I can tell you, I would stop the process right there.” She added that if she were able to stop the process every time she smelled alcohol on someone’s breath — which she would dearly like to do — a lot of people would be sent home to return another day. (Apparently, the law does not give much real cop power to a marriage license clerk unless the prospective spouse is soused.)

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Stephanie Salter
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