S ecular celebrants are not permitted in most states to solemnize marriages as a member of the clergy could do. This is
presently true in Illinois no longer true in Illinois. The statute regulating marriage in Illinois, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Marriage Act, sets forth the following individuals that are legally able to solemnize marriages (750 ILCS 5/209):
(a) A marriage may be solemnized by a judge of a court of record, by a retired judge of a court of record, unless the retired judge was removed from office by the Judicial Inquiry Board, except that a retired judge shall not receive any compensation from the State, a county or any unit of local government in return for the solemnization of a marriage and there shall be no effect upon any pension benefits conferred by the Judges Retirement System of Illinois, by a judge of the Court of Claims, by a county clerk in counties having 2,000,000 or more inhabitants, by a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages, or in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, provided that when such prescriptions require an officiant, the officiant be in good standing with his or her religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group. (emphasis mine)
However, as of January 4, 2017, secular celebrants are officially permitted to solemnize marriages in the state of Illinois after the Center for Inquiry and Galen successfully challenged the constitutionality of above statute in federal court.
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