Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Did Maryland pass an Anti-Woody Allen Law?

I have just read the text of HB438, the "Civil Marriage Protection Act".

I just can't quite understand the purpose of this law, at least of parts of it.
In short, it defines marriage as a union of two individuals not otherwise prohibited from marrying. It then lays out a long string of people an individual may not marry. Finally it declares that the state won't force ministers to solemnize marriages they are opposed to on religious grounds (something no one has ever done, and the state could not ever do under the Constitution - I think it's just there to make religious people feel better).

But what's in that list of prohibited marriages?
No marrying a grandparent, parent, sibling, child or grandchild.
Okay, that's what used to be called consanguinity (having the same blood). You can't marry a close family member. Cousins? Aunts? Uncles? well....
Then there's the second list:
Grandparent's spouse, parent's sibling, stepparent, spouse's parent, spouse's child, child's spouse, grandchild's spouse, spouse's grandchild, or sibling's child.

Okay, so that rules out aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. It also rules out people married to those close relations.
I admit to being a bit puzzled by the ban on marrying someone closely related to your spouse. As far as I know, if you have a spouse, you are married, and marrying a spouse's relative would violate the fist part of the law that defines marriage as between "two individuals." Pretty sure we already have a ban on multiple marriages so I think the legislature must have meant an ex-spouse or a late spouse.

So what does this have to do with Woody Allen?
When he and Mia Farrow were together she adopted Soon-Yi Previn. Soon-Yi was therefore Mia Farrow's daughter. For the past 15 years, Allen and Previn have been married.
Fear not though, Mr. Allen. You are in the clear.
Woody Allen was never married to Mia Farrow, so despite the impression that seems to have gotten around, he was never her father and she was not his "spouse's child".

Of course the real purpose of the law is probably in the last provision, which prevents anyone from suing the priest for refusing to solemnize their same-sex wedding vows, though of course, no state has ever required a Catholic priest to marry two Baptists so how this changes anything is beyond me.

1 comment:

  1. I think you missed the big thing it changes... the new language "two individuals not otherwise prohibited from marrying" replaces the current statutory language "a man and a woman."