There doesn’t seem to be much love in the air in Washington these days, as a long and bitter government shutdown drags on with no end in sight.
But couples whose marriage plans were thwarted by the partial shutdown have gotten a break, thanks to the action of Mayor Muriel Bowser and city council.
The city’s Marriage Bureau, part of the US capital’s federally funded court system, had been deemed “nonessential” and shuttered as part of the thorny standoff between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats.
But on Friday, Bowser signed an emergency measure authorizing city officials to validate marriages in the absence of the Marriage Bureau, which closed when the budget standoff began on December 22.
“They can shutdown the US government, but they cannot shutdown love in the District of Columbia,” City Council member Brandon Todd said when he introduced the measure.
Titled the Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Amendment Act, or LOVE act, the law is valid for 90 days and will spare future brides like Claire O’Rourke from finding themselves in Kafkaesque situations.
“Practically, we couldn’t sign all the legal certificates during the shutdown without having a marriage licence,” O’Rourke, a Washingtonian who was preparing to wed fiance Sam Bockenhauer, said.
“So we were going to have a wonderful party, of course, but couldn’t be legally married in DC until we got our marriage licence.”
Some couples, like Dan Pollock and Danielle Geanacopoulos, had no time to spare. They managed to get their wedding licence on December 27, just two days before their scheduled wedding.
“By the time we figured out we couldn’t get a licence, we were running out of time before friends and family were coming to Washington to celebrate with us,” Geanacopoulos said. “So we focused on the really important thing — celebrating — and decided to figure out the rest later.”
Her mother, Daphne, said she was “delighted.”
“We had a really great big wedding two weeks ago… (but) it feels wonderful to have it official.”
For Caitlin Walters, who plans to wed Kirk Kasa on February 2 on the campus of Catholic University, the shutdown was simply “a small speed bump in the road.”
“Obviously we knew about the shutdown, but we didn’t know it would directly affect our ability to get married in DC legally,” said Walters, a New York resident. — AFP