If you are a registered wedding officiant or ordained minister, you may think that your job to perform a wedding is fairly cut and dry. You are approached by a couple that would like to be married and you agree or disagree to perform the service. Unfortunately, this may not be the case for a handful of wedding requests, and handling these requests wrong could lead to possible criminal charges. Before you get started with your wedding officiant business, consider the following questions that every wedding officiant needs to ask.
If I Refuse a Wedding Could I Be Charged Criminally?
One of the biggest concerns for wedding officiants is facing possible criminal charges for refusing to perform a wedding. The misconception here is that the problem is refusing to perform the service. The real issue, that may lead to criminal charges, is if discrimination is involved.
The easiest way to avoid this issue is to be clear about the kind of services you perform and that those services meet the federal standards for legal weddings in your area. If you are following the legal rules set forth in your area for weddings and only refusing weddings based on your schedule, then you should be fine.
Do I Need to Have a Criminal Defense Attorney on Retainer?
You may be concerned about being sued or having state or county charges brought against you criminally for denying a wedding as an ordained officiant. If this is the case, the first step to take is to consult with a professional criminal defense attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Michael K. Tasker, and find out what possible issues you may be facing with future clients and how to avoid any issues.
The attorney will be able to discuss the laws with you, explain the laws, and help you arrive at a solution that works for you and your wedding business. This doesn't mean that you need to keep one on retainer, but if you still feel that an issue may come up, you should keep an attorney in mind.
Would Contracts Help or Hurt the Wedding Business?
One way that many wedding officiants choose to cut down on possible criminal charges for discrimination is to use a contract. By stating in your contract what you will and will not do, as long as it meets the legal standards and does not discriminate or break the law in anyway, you can be clear about your intentions as a wedding officiant.
You will also have the signature of the couple that states they knew your intentions going into the service and that you refused to perform certain services. This will help you if a criminal case does come up regarding discrimination.
The key point to remember with refusing a wedding and facing possible discrimination charges in a criminal court is to simply avoid discrimination. If you are unsure if your refusal could be considered discrimination, or if you need advice on wording your wedding contracts, contact a criminal defense attorney for a consultation.