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H.694

Introduced by Representatives Corren of Burlington, Bristol of Brattleboro, Deen of Westminster, Suchmann of Chester, Sullivan of Burlington and Zuckerman of Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject: Domestic relations; marriage

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to amend the marriage statutes and marriage-related statutes to make them gender neutral.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE ABILITY TO MARRY

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT

The General Assembly finds that it is necessary to amend the existing state marriage statutes in light of the Vermont Supreme Court's holding in Baker v. State. The Court has determined that Vermont's current system of conferring benefits and privileges to certain persons who may marry under state law, but denying those benefits and privileges to others without a reasonable and just basis, is a violation of the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution which this Legislature must remedy, and that the state is required to confer to all couples the common benefits and privileges that are derived from marriage under state law.

Sec. 2. 15 V.S.A. § 1 is amended to read:

§ 1. *[MAN FORBIDDEN TO MARRY RELATIVES]* VALIDITY OF

MARRIAGE

*[A man shall not marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister or mother's sister ]*

Marriages contracted by two persons are valid without regard to the gender of either party, provided that the parties meet the marriage requirements set forth in this chapter and chapter 105 of Title 18.

Sec. 3. 15 V.S.A. § 2 is amended to read:

§ 2. *[WOMAN]* PERSONS FORBIDDEN TO MARRY RELATIVES

(a) A woman shall not marry her father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother or mother's brother.

(b) A man shall not marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister or mother's sister.

Sec. 4. 15 V.S.A. § 4 is amended to read:

§ 4. MARRIAGE CONTRACTED WHILE ONE IN FORCE

Marriages contracted while either party *[has another wife or husband]* is married to another living party shall be void.

Sec. 5. 15 V.S.A. § 6 is amended to read:

§ 6. MARRIAGE VOID IN STATE OF RESIDENCE

A marriage *[shall not be]* contracted in this state by a person residing and intending to continue to reside in another state or jurisdiction*[, if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other state or jurisdiction. Every marriage solemnized in this state in violation of this section]* shall be *[null and void]* valid.

Sec. 6. 18 V.S.A. § 5005 is amended to read:

§ 5005. UNORGANIZED TOWNS AND GORES

(a) The county clerk of a county wherein is situated an unorganized town or gore shall perform the same duties and be subject to the same penalties as town clerks in respect to licenses, certificates, records and returns of parties, both of whom reside in an unorganized town or gore in such county or where *[the groom]* one party to a marriage so resides and the *[bride]* other party resides in an unorganized town or gore in another county or without the state *[or where the bride resides in an unorganized town or gore in such county and the groom resides without the state]*. The cost of binding such certificates shall be paid by the state.

* * *

Sec. 7. 18 V.S.A. § 5009 is amended to read:

§ 5009. NONRESIDENTS; CERTIFIED COPIES

On the first day of each month, *[he]* the clerk shall make a certified copy of each original or corrected certificate of birth, marriage and death filed in *[his]* the clerk's office during the preceding month, whenever the parents of a child born were, or a *[bride or a groom]* party to a marriage or a deceased person was, a resident in any other Vermont town at the time of such birth, marriage or death, and shall transmit such certified copy to the clerk of such other Vermont town, who shall file the same.

Sec. 8. 18 V.S.A. § 5012 is amended to read:

§ 5012. TOWN CLERK TO PROVIDE GENERAL INDEX; MARRIAGES

Except as provided by section 1153 of Title 24, town and county clerks shall prepare and keep a general index to the marriage records, in alphabetical order and in the following form:

Book
1

Page
1

*[Groom to]* *[Bride]*

Party to Party
A. to B.

Date

Book
1

Page
1

*[Bride to Groom]*

Party to Party
B. to A.

Date

Sec. 9. 15 V.S.A. § 5131 is amended to read:

§ 5131. ISSUANCE OF MARRIAGE LICENSE; SOLEMNIZATION;

RETURN OF MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

(a) Upon application in a form prescribed by the department, a town clerk shall issue to a person a marriage license in the form prescribed by the department and shall enter thereon the names of the parties to the proposed marriage, fill out the form as far as practicable and retain in *[his]* the clerk's office a copy thereof. At least one party to the proposed marriage shall sign the certifying application to the accuracy of the facts so stated. The license shall be issued by the clerk of the town where either *[the bride or groom]* party resides or, if neither is a resident of the state, by a town clerk in the county where the marriage is to be solemnized.

(b) A marriage license so issued shall be delivered by one of the parties to the proposed marriage, within *[sixty]* 60 days from the date of issue to a person authorized to solemnize marriages by section 5144 of this title. If the proposed marriage is not solemnized within *[sixty]* 60 days from the date of issue, such license shall become void. After such person has solemnized the marriage, *[he]* the town clerk shall fill out that part of the form on the license provided for *[his]* the clerk's use, sign and certify to the same. Thereafter the document shall be known as a marriage certificate.

* * *

Sec. 10. CORRECTION OF STATUTORY REFERENCES

The statutory revision commission is directed to revise all references to gender-specific terms for spouses to gender-neutral terms. The commission shall also revise all references to gender-specific terms for betrothed to gender-neutral terms.