Important business in Alaska Legislature: Removing the need for two marriage witnesses

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A bill that would remove the requirement for marriage witnesses moves to the Alaska House of Representative floor for a vote on Friday. HB 62 would eliminate the current requirement for two witnesses to sign a marriage certificate.

At present, couples must assent to the marriage in the presence of each other, the person solemnizing the marriage, and two additional witnesses. All five present parties must sign the marriage certificates. House Bill 62 would eliminate the requirements of any additional witnesses at the marriage solemnization and the signatures of these witnesses on marriage certificates. The bill is an effort to help support Alaska’s destination wedding industry.

According to the bill sponsor, Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, Alaska is one of 20 states that require two wedding witnesses. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia do not require wedding witnesses.

View the laws in all states regarding marriage witness requirements at this link.

Claman argues that witnesses played a more critical role in past centuries when record keeping was less automated. Witnesses could be contacted to verify the wedding had taken place in the event that records were damaged or missing.

“Today, however, the role of a wedding witness is ceremonial. In Alaska, while the person solemnizing the marriage must meet certain criteria, no form of witness verification (proof of identification, language comprehension, address validation, etc.) is required. HB 62 would allow Alaska to compete with states like Hawaii and Florida, which require no wedding witnesses and lead the nation in destination weddings.”

In Alaska, witnesses are required for other legal activities, such as voting an absentee ballot.

Destination weddings are a growing business in Alaska, especially as couples opt for small, intimate ceremonies rather than large ones due to risks associated with Covid-19, Claman said. The requirement of two wedding witnesses makes Alaska a less attractive location for many who travel from farther away or who do not want the financial burden of a larger wedding, he said.

Destination weddings bring in an estimated $1 million in revenue to Alaska in the form of roughly 500 destination weddings a year, Claman said. “This revenue figure doesn’t consider the fact that more than 90% of the out-of-state couples who come to Alaska to get married stay for days and weeks to explore our great state. The resulting benefit to Alaska’s tourism industry is substantial,” he said. Claman filed the bill last year and it has taken one year to get it to the floor for a vote, where it faced several amendments on Wednesday.

If the bill passes on Friday it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I really don’t like marriage as a business. Whatever it takes to take other people’s money.

  2. Thank God they are dealing with important issues like marriage witnesses and state vegetables.

    It’s great to be Alaskan and not have an bigger concerns to worry over.

  3. If records were missing, how did they contact the witnesses? Also what planet does this guy live on? I would guess the smaller weddings due to Covid 19 is limited to the Covid Witnesses and places where they’re limiting the number of people in a business. Create a problem and propose a solution I guess. Judging by marriages today, we need more difficulty not less. Maybe bring back the blood tests and go to four witnesses. If somebody doesn’t want to marry you because there needs to be witnesses and a blood test then you might want to rethink the whole thing.

  4. Mr Claman, think of the revenue that might be generated if we keep the current statue for two witnesses in place. I’ll gladly show up for a hundred bucks to sign the witness certificate.
    BTW, where is my PFD?

  5. With all the important things that have to be dealt with in our state, this idiot thinks it is important to spend time on a non problem. It exemplifies what is wrong in Juneau.

  6. Another ungodly politician just further cheapening the marriage covenant. a couple Getting married should find it is as much as challenge as getting a divorce. This way they know what they are getting into. This by Claman will only increase the divorce rate cheapening the marriage to approved prostitution.

  7. Another strong argument for REDUCING legislator’s paychecks.
    Their waste of time we’re paying for. Doing nothing about the past years of Grand Theft PFD.
    Why do we pay them at all?????

  8. They are wasting time so they can get more overtime later (special session). Vote for the constitutional convention and impose term limits. Plus their pay should not be approved until they pass the budget

  9. The dunning down of the significance of marriage continues with Clamans bill. One of the most significant institutions given to man by GOD and the state has two essential requirements a.) that both parties accept or choose each other as their spouse and b.) that it be publicly witnessed. The choosing is of course a highly subjective and personal event whereas the witnessing is a highly objective non personal event whose legal significance carries great weight in the form of legal testimony akin to witnessing an accident or a death. The value of that non personal testimony is hugely significant in a court of law.

  10. Hate to say it, but it looks like another piece of custom legislation to benefit somebody’s personal business. Taking up expensive time on the floor. When are they going to start creating more fake “holidays “? How about taking care of State business before all of the personal bills, like the budget and PFDs.

  11. This is a non issue. Can’t believe someone thought this was important! Plus, it cheapens marriage. What a waste of time. Focus on cutting the bloated budget and following the law on the PFD.

  12. What this intended to screw the widow and widower. It is to facilitate this. Ideally you fall in love and register your marriage. Live life together perhaps reproduce. The eventual widower or widow may have a difficult time Proving the marriage. This is a bill sponsored by a member of the bar facilitating economic harm to the surviving mate and allowing familial estate to pass with greater ease to “the state”. KEEP LIVING IN THE STATE THAT LOVES YOU. ALASKA IS ALL ABOUT RIPPING YOU OFF.

  13. Alaska’s Representatives no longer about serving the people virtuously,
    Most are in it for self gain. Those that violate the Constitution never face justice.

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