2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
October 19, 2017 - Introduced by Representatives C. Taylor, Zamarripa, Anderson,
Genrich, Pope, Berceau, Sargent, Brostoff, Crowley and Spreitzer,
cosponsored by Senator Carpenter. Referred to Committee on Family Law.
1An Act to amend
765.16 (2m); and
765.002 (2m), 765.002 (5m) and 2
765.16 (1m) (g) of the statutes; relating to: persons authorized to officiate a
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill authorizes a civil celebrant to officiate a marriage. The bill defines a
“civil celebrant" as an individual who is authorized by a secular organization to
solemnize marriages or civil unions. A “secular organization" under the bill is an
organization whose members subscribe to secular values, beliefs, and practices and
that is not affiliated with or controlled by a church or particular religious authority.
Under current law, marriage is validly solemnized and contracted in this state after
a marriage license has been issued and the two parties mutually declare, before an
authorized officiating person and two witnesses, that they take each other as each
other's spouse. The following persons are currently authorized officiating persons:
1) an ordained member of the clergy; 2) a licentiate of a denominational body or an
appointee of a bishop serving as the regular member of the clergy of any church of
the denomination to which the member of the clergy belongs; 3) the two marrying
parties themselves, by mutual declaration that they take each other as each other's
spouse; 4) a judge, reserve judge, or municipal judge; and 5) a circuit court
commissioner. This bill adds a civil celebrant to the list of those who may officiate
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
765.002 (2m) of the statutes is created to read:
In this chapter, “civil celebrant" means an individual who is 3
authorized by a secular organization to solemnize marriages or civil unions.
765.002 (5m) of the statutes is created to read:
In this chapter, “secular organization" means an organization 6
whose members subscribe to secular values, beliefs, and practices and that is not 7
affiliated with or controlled by a church or particular religious authority.
765.16 (1m) (g) of the statutes is created to read:
(g) Any civil celebrant.
765.16 (2m) of the statutes is amended to read:
An officiating person under sub. (1m) (a), (b), (d), (e), or
(f), or (g) 12
must be at least 18 years old.