BILL NUMBER: SB 906 AMENDED
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JULY 1, 2010
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 15, 2010
INTRODUCED BY Senator Leno
(Principal coauthor: Senator Kehoe)
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Ammiano)
(Coauthors: Senators Pavley, Price, and Steinberg)
Coauthor: Assembly Member
Jones Coauthors: Assembly Members
Feuer, Jones, Monning,
and Saldana )
JANUARY 27, 2010
An act to amend Sections 300, 400, 402, 420, 421, 422, 423, 425,
and 426 of the Family Code, relating to marriage.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
SB 906, as amended, Leno. Marriage.
Existing law defines marriage as a personal relation arising out
of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent
of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary.
This bill would instead define the term civil marriage as a
personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a
woman, established pursuant to a State of California marriage
license issued by the county clerk, to which the consent of the
parties capable of making that contract is necessary. The bill would
also make conforming related changes by changing certain references
to marriage to civil marriage.
Existing law enumerates persons who are authorized to solemnize a
marriage, including, but not limited to, any priest, minister, rabbi,
or authorized person of any religious denomination.
The bill would specify that no priest, minister, rabbi, or
authorized person of any religious denomination , or his or her
religious denomination, would be required to solemnize a
marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her
his, her, or its faith. The bill would state
that any refusal to solemnize a marriage under that provision shall
not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Section 300 of the Family Code is amended to read:
300. (a) Civil marriage is a personal relation arising out of a
civil contract between a man and a woman, established pursuant to a
State of California marriage license issued by the county clerk, to
which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is
necessary. Consent alone does not constitute civil marriage. Consent
must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as
authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and
Part 4 (commencing with Section 500).
(b) For the purposes of this part, the document issued by the
county clerk is a marriage license until it is registered with the
county recorder, at which time the license becomes a marriage
SEC. 2. Section 400 of the Family Code is amended to read:
400. Civil marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who
is of the age of 18 years or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any
religious denomination. No person authorized by this subdivision
, or his or her religious denomination, shall be required to
solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his
or her his, her, or its faith. Any refusal to
solemnize a marriage under this subdivision shall not affect the tax
exempt status of any entity.
(b) A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or
retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired
commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this
(c) A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
(d) Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United
(1) A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme
(2) A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district
court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which
are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
(3) A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
(4) A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
(e) A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a
Member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while
that person holds office.
SEC. 3. Section 402 of the Family Code is amended to read:
402. In addition to the persons permitted to solemnize civil
marriages under Section 400, a county may license officials of a
nonprofit religious institution, whose articles of incorporation are
registered with the Secretary of State, to solemnize the civil
marriages of persons who are affiliated with or are members of the
religious institution. The licensee shall possess the degree of
doctor of philosophy and must perform religious services or rites for
the institution on a regular basis. The civil marriages shall be
performed without fee to the parties.
SEC. 4. Section 420 of the Family Code is amended to read:
420. (a) No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is
required for solemnization of the civil marriage, but the parties
shall declare, in the physical presence of the person solemnizing the
marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as
husband and wife.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a member of the Armed Forces
of the United States who is stationed overseas and serving in a
conflict or a war and is unable to appear for the licensure and
solemnization of the civil marriage may enter into that marriage by
the appearance of an attorney-in-fact, commissioned and empowered in
writing for that purpose through a power of attorney. The
attorney-in-fact must personally appear at the county clerk's office
with the party who is not stationed overseas, and present the
original power of attorney duly signed by the party stationed
overseas and acknowledged by a notary or witnessed by two officers of
the United States Armed Forces. Copies in any form, including by
facsimile, are not acceptable. The power of attorney shall state the
full given names at birth, or by court order, of the parties to be
married, and that the power of attorney is solely for the purpose of
authorizing the attorney-in-fact to obtain a marriage license on the
person's behalf and participate in the solemnization of the marriage.
The original power of attorney shall be a part of the marriage
certificate upon registration.
(c) No contract of civil marriage, if otherwise duly made, shall
be invalidated for want of conformity to the requirements of any
SEC. 5. Section 421 of the Family Code is amended to read:
421. Before solemnizing a civil marriage, the person solemnizing
the marriage shall require the presentation of the marriage license.
If the person solemnizing the marriage has reason to doubt the
correctness of the statement of facts in the marriage license, the
person must be satisfied as to the correctness of the statement of
facts before solemnizing the marriage. For this purpose, the person
may administer oaths and examine the parties and witnesses in the
same manner as the county clerk does before issuing the license.
SEC. 6. Section 422 of the Family Code is amended to read:
422. The person solemnizing a civil marriage shall, sign and
print or type upon the marriage license a statement, in the form
prescribed by the State Department of Public Health, showing all of
(a) The fact, date (month, day, year), and place (city and county)
(b) The printed names, signatures, and mailing addresses of at
least one, and no more than two, witnesses to the ceremony.
(c) The official position of the person solemnizing the marriage,
or of the denomination of which that person is a priest, minister,
rabbi, or other authorized person of any religious denomination.
(d) The person solemnizing the marriage shall also type or print
his or her name and mailing address.
SEC. 7. Section 423 of the Family Code is amended to read:
423. The person solemnizing the civil marriage shall return the
marriage license, endorsed as required in Section 422, to the county
recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days
after the ceremony.
SEC. 8. Section 425 of the Family Code is amended to read:
425. If no record of the solemnization of a California civil
marriage previously contracted under this division for that marriage
is known to exist, the parties may purchase a License and Certificate
of Declaration of Marriage from the county clerk in the parties'
county of residence one year or more from the date of the marriage.
The license and certificate shall be returned to the county recorder
of the county in which the license was issued.
SEC. 9. Section 426 of the Family Code is amended to read:
426. If for sufficient reason, as described in subdivision (d),
either or both of the parties to be married are physically unable to
appear in person before the county clerk, a marriage license may be
issued by the county clerk to the person solemnizing the civil
marriage if the following requirements are met:
(a) The person solemnizing the marriage physically presents an
affidavit to the county clerk explaining the reason for the inability
(b) The affidavit is signed under penalty of perjury by the person
solemnizing the marriage and by both parties.
(c) The signature of any party to be married who is unable to
appear in person before the county clerk is authenticated by a notary
public or a court prior to the county clerk issuing the marriage
(d) Sufficient reason includes proof of hospitalization,
incarceration, or any other reason proved to the satisfaction of the