This appeared in The Gadsden Times, Thursday, Feb. 8


To join together this man and woman in Holy matrimony… what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. We have all heard it. It is moving. It is magical. It is going away—in Alabama, at least. In the future, the law will hold, that the couple execute a contract, sort of like buying a house, submit that contract to a clerk in the Office of Probate Judge, pay a fee, and walk out married. Done. 

“All requirements to obtain a marriage license by the State of Alabama are hereby abolished and repealed. The requirement of a ceremony of marriage to solemnize the marriage is abolished.” 

The Senate approved SB13 in January by a large margin and the house is poised to pass the bill and send it to Governor Ivey for her signature. We are told that its passage is practically a given, maybe the first week of the session, which begins Feb. 6.  

"Some see this as a way to protect local probate judges from being forced to issue gay marriage licenses, which is both morally and politically problematic for a lot of them,” Todd Stacy, the publisher of the Alabama Daily News, said of the Alabama bill. It appears that of 67 probate judges, there are eight who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same gender couples and, to prevent discrimination claims, have ceased issuing licenses to anyone, so couples must drive to the next county—not a huge deal, except the fees go to the neighboring county. This law is for those judges, who will, of course, eventually leave office anyway. 

So “marriage” as we have always known it will forever change in our state, and “weddings” in the strict sense of the word will cease to exist. Because, according to Wikipedia: “A ‘wedding’ is a ceremony where two people or a couple are united in marriage”. Not in this state. A “wedding” by definition, will be impossible here. All marriages will happen in a courthouse.

“I disagree with the proposed legislation to replace state marriage licenses with private contracts,” (Roy) Moore, the former state chief justice who lost a high-profile race for the Senate last month, told Fox News in a written statement. “We need to take a stand for holy matrimony and defend our laws as defined by God and the Constitution of Alabama."

So, for a while, no one knows how long, we may still hear “I now pronounce you Husband and Wife”. But it will be a farce, for they were married when they left the courthouse last week.  Or maybe they will be married one day the next week. But it won’t be a wedding. You see, you cannot get married in a ceremony on Saturday, but only when the courthouse is open.

Some will still go through the motions and have a ceremony, though it is unseen what the minister will say, or if they will have a minister at all, or if they will exchange vows, or if they will just have a reception or a party. 

But many fear wedding ceremonies in Alabama will fade away, like Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house or family dinner at the dinner table. The tradition will change, and take with it a vibrant part of Alabama’s economy.

The well intended lawmakers, in an effort to give cover to a few probate judges, will wipe out a fairly large part of our state’s economy. Was it unintended consequences, or just the price they’re willing to pay to not be accused of being “pro gay marriage”, as one congressman put it? This writer is not taking a side for or against that controversial issue, but will point out that under SB13, probate judges are not allowed to refuse the acceptance of any properly completed contract, regardless of gender. 

The price of SB13: There are over 300,000 businesses in the wedding industry in the United States, employing 1.2 million people with total revenue in 2016 of $72 billion. The national average cost of a wedding day in 2016 shot up to $35,329, according to a survey by The Knot (a leading wedding website).  There are over 2,500 wedding related businesses in Alabama. Most are small; usually mom and pop operations, and they employ thousands more. Most operate on a thin profit margin and even a small drop in income would cause the doors to close. All pay sales tax and property tax and income tax. After SB 13, hundreds of those businesses will close.  Thousands will lose their jobs. Millions will be lost in state and local tax revenue. 

Politicians are eager to show up for photos at a ribbon cutting when a new business opens. How eagerly will they claim this carnage? And how will they justify it? Cover for eight probate judges? Really?


Now that you know, will you help us stop this bill from becoming law?

We are Don and Susan Boozer, owners of Applewood Farm, a venue in St. Clair County.  We are terrified that SB13 will negatively effect our business.  We are in the process of hiring a government relations firm (lobbiest) to represent the interests of the Wedding Industry in the legislature by amending this law to retain the requirement for a ceremony as was the law when we all chose this field. 

The firm is well known and respected in the Statehouse.  They have agreed to represent us. Many we have spoken with believe as we do that the sanctity of marriage and our livelihood will be jeopardized if SB13 becomes law in its present form. Of course, if it passes as is, some couples will still have formal wedding ceremonies, but that number will decline over time. Please contribute anything you can. Many of us operate on a slim margin and cannot afford to take a chance on SB13 becoming law. 

The entire amount raised will be used for this purpose. We, at Applewood Farm have contributed the first $1,000.00.

United By A Common Goal

Share the word.  Anyone involved in the wedding industry should be concerned about this impending law.  Ministers have expressed stark concern about separating the church from marriage. We need their help, too. We need calls to state representives, and word-of-mouth.

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We cannot defeat SB13 without your help. The most important thing we can do immediately is engage in political action. Our voices should be heard. Please contribute to the fund to retain a professional to represent us in Montgomery.  GET INVOLVED TODAY!!

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