Law profs: e-marriages expand rights

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) A Boston couple wanting to wed under Louisiana's covenant marriage law, or two New Orleans women seeking to wed in Massachusetts should be able to do so without leaving home, two law professors say.

Michigan State University's Adam Candeub and Mae Kuykendall have started the Legal E-Marriage Project, a clearinghouse for legislative proposals to establish "e-marriages."

"According to the team, the proposal refutes suggestions the state should get out of the marriage business and has the potential to alter the landscape of marriage culture wars," Michigan State law school spokeswoman Katie Gallagher wrote on the school's Web site.

Candeub and Kuykendall said states should let couples marry under the laws of whatever place they chose.

A couple's physical presence in the state authorizing a marriage has never been a universal rule, the professors said. Couples long have married by proxy, mail and telephone.

"The state needs to fight marital fraud, harness modern technology to make marriage more accessible and open its symbolic value to a variety of communities both online and off line," Kuykendall said.

At San Diego's Thomas Jefferson Law School, professor Bryan Wildenthal called it a "groundbreaking, an innovative approach to the entire issue of how law should regulate family relationships."

Same-sex couples could marry in California under the laws of Massachusetts or Vermont, if the states enacted e-marriage provisions, Candeub and Kuykendall said. A couple's home state would not necessarily have to recognize the marriage.

Likewise, people wanting a covenant marriage with its stricter rules for divorce as offered in Arizona and Louisiana would be able to do so regardless of where they live.

On the Net:

Legal E-Marriage Project: http://www.law.msu.edu/e-marriage

Published: Tue, Dec 8, 2009

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