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Clarification of HB 3408

If it passes, I'll be going to prison

Rep. Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City has introduced HB 3408 "An act relating to marriage."  It would make it a felony for a minister of the Gospel to solemnize a marriage not recognzied by the state of Oklahoma. 

Here is the text of the bill:

Any minister of the Gospel, or other person authorized to solemnize the rites of matrimony within this state, who shall knowingly solemnize the rites of matrimony between persons prohibited by this chapter, from intermarrying shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and imprisonment in the State Penitentiary custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years.


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Even hardline, wide Right Constitutionalists should be against this. It make a mockery of church-and-state issues.


It looks like this is already existing law. Nelson's bill only amends it to change State Penitentiary to Department of Corrections. Though if it actually means what it sounds like, it's almost laughably unconstitutional and would never get past a First Amendment challenge.

Jason Nelson

More details about HB3408

As this bill is a shell bill I was not familiar with the existing statute and therefore asked House legal staff to provide information about what Title 43, Sec. 14 relates to. I have included information based on their report to me.

First, the existing statutory language in the bill does not address same sex marriage. The language you suggest I’m attempting to pass has actually been in the Oklahoma Statutes since 1910.

Second, the current state law found in shell bill HB3408 addresses the following circumstances, “Marriages between ancestors and descendants of any degree, of a stepfather with a stepdaughter, stepmother with stepson, between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, except in cases where such relationship is only by marriage, between brothers and sisters of the half as well as the whole blood, and first cousins are declared to be incestuous, illegal and void, and are expressly prohibited.” (Title 43, Sec. 2)

Additionally, current law addresses, “…no person under the age of eighteen … years shall enter into the marriage relation, nor shall any license issue therefor, except … upon the consent and authority expressly given by the parent or guardian ….” (Title 43, Sec. 3) Also, in section 3, “Every person under the age of sixteen … years is expressly forbidden and prohibited from entering into the marriage relation ….”

Section 3C of the 1910 law also states, “No marriage may be authorized when such marriage would be incestuous under this chapter.”

Section 4 of the 1910 law further states, “No person shall enter into or contract the marriage relation, nor shall any person perform or solemnize the ceremony of any marriage in this state without a license being first issued by the judge or clerk of the district court….”

Third, the 1910 text found in HB3408 makes clear that it is only concerned with this “chapter” of Title 43 for which I have included the relevant language above. The prohibition of same-sex marriage passed by a vote of the people is not included in this title or section of statute.

Please take the time to verify what I’ve written here. I assume you would object to removing the nearly 100 year old statute which provides penalties for performing marriages where the relationship is incestuous or involves a child – and which has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

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