Shutdown reveals D.C. marriage, wedding ‘emergency’

January 3, 2019


The federal government shutdown seems to have thrown a wrench into the gears of love, marriage and weddings. It’s a false breakdown, though.

The District of Columbia isn’t Las Vegas, where Wedding Chapel Row hosts more people saying “I do” (and in other instances “I undo”) than the U.S. Capitol hosts 535 members of Congress on an annual basis.

Yet amid the shutdown, folks are more riled up about the funk along the National Mall, where portable toilets and trash receptacles reek and our national treasures such as the Smithsonian Institution, the National Arboretum and the U.S. Botanic Garden are closed.

Even the White House and the Capitol are closed to the general public. (Illegal immigrants, meanwhile, remain free to roam our border as they see fit.)

But let’s get back to the cultural dilemma. The federal government, not the D.C. government, oversees the city’s court system, and due to the shutdown, D.C. Superior Court cannot hand out marriage licenses.

Certifying marriage applications is not as essential government chore as, say, securing the White House, congressional buildings, military facilities and the like or even keeping America beautiful by picking up garbage and pet poop.

But Mayor Muriel Bowser is a prime example of those who think the shutdown of the marriage bureau is worthy of being declared an “emergency,” saying she is devising emergency legislation that would establish the city’s authority to issue marriage licenses during the shutdown.

It’s not that a bride cannot still be wed to her honey-boo in the District, or have a lavish wedding in the District, or even be divorced in the District. Any or all of those events can still take place.

If a couple so chooses, they could get a judge, clergy member or even a mayor to officiate their wedding, and get a license and certificate at a later date. (I’ve attended a D.C. marriage officiated by a mayor and Baptist minister.)

Anyway, the cultural cauldron of marriage and politics has been bubbling over since the heady 1960s, when matrons and patrons struck out against what had been cultural norms. The D.C. “emergency” marriage proposition follows suit.

What’s more the city’s efforts won’t sit still if such a bill gets a nod from the D.C. Council. If that happens, Congress gets dibs, courtesy of the U.S. Constitution, which will certainly move city officials to light at least 51 flares for a statehood declaration in City Hall.

What fun could be in store: Nancy Pelosi’s House of Democrats vs. Donald Trump’s house of cards. Tee hee.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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