Hump Day Report: Wedding Bill Blues
Rants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.
There have been numerous movie scenes and more than a few songs about quickie Las Vegas weddings, a lot of them featuring Elvis impersonators or other fake celebrities.
Would Atlantic City begin its own quickie wedding tradition if the three-day waiting period for marriage/civil union licenses were eliminated?
Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden) are working on just such a bill right now, A4366, which they introduced on Monday. The three-day waiting period has been around for 67 years in New Jersey but there are 27 other states that do not have a waiting period, although only two of them are in the Northeast, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
If you are imaging a bunch of couples hitting it big at the casinos, drinking too much champagne and then getting hitched, the bill has an “out” clause allowing for annulments without cause within 30 days. The bill is also designed to generate revenue, by increasing the wedding license free from $28 to $60. New Jersey residents would also be able to seek a license in any New Jersey town. As of now, you can only apply for a marriage license in your hometown. That latter seems like a bigger deal than the actual waiting period.
The bill could be another way to sell Atlantic City, as a wedding destination, which is why the casino industry approves of the proposed bill. According to a story in the Associated Press on-line site, Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said instant weddings have not been a big issue for Atlantic City. “The issue has never been raised, but anything to help business, we would welcome.”
Revel, the mega-resort casino scheduled to open in May 2012, originally included a wedding chapel in its plans, but was later dropped. Maureen Siman, a spokeswoman for the casino, welcomed the proposed law. She said it could help generate new business for an annual Valentine’s Day group wedding that the city’s convention and visitors bureau hosts.
Scutari was quoted in nj.com saying that the measure could lead to a proliferation of the type of instant wedding chapels Las Vegas is known for. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said. “It’s not what we’re shooting for. But we want to give New Jersey the best in tourism dollars, and this is one of the ways we can allow Atlantic City and Cape May and other locations to market themselves.”
To become law in this legislative session, the bill requires approval by the Senate and Assembly and signed by Gov. Chris Christie by January.
With the 30-day get-out-of-marriage free clause, I support the passage of the bill. Anything that gives Atlantic City an edge against the competition is welcome. Since the casinos have been cultivating the GLBT community anyway, and civil unions are included in the elimination of the waiting period, I can see the city becoming a civil union destination as well as a marriage destination.
How do you feel about the bill? Please leave your comments on the issue.