D.C. Court Expands Staff for its Marriage Bureau Following Increase in Same-Sex Marriages

The D.C. Superior Court recently announced that it has increased staff and added two additional rooms for its Marriage Bureau to meet a sudden increase in demand for marriage licenses and courthouse weddings for same-sex couples.  According to the Clerk of the Superior Court, the number of people applying for marriage licenses has more than doubled in the past two months.

Among other things, the additional space will be used to interview applicants seeking a marriage license and to perform wedding ceremonies.  The second ceremony room opened on Monday, September 16th and doubled the potential number of courthouse marriage ceremonies that can take place each day.

In the District of Columbia, same-sex marriage has been recognized since March 2010.  In order to obtain a marriage license in D.C., a couple must apply to the Marriage Bureau located at D.C. Superior Court, Moultrie Courthouse.  Approved licenses are issued the next day.  In addition to recognizing same-sex marriage, D.C. law provides special provisions for same-sex couples who were married in D.C. and now wish to dissolve their marriage through divorce.

If a same-sex couple was married in D.C. and neither party lives in a state that recognizes the creation or dissolution of same-sex marriages (such as Virginia), the parties can pursue a divorce in the District of Columbia without having to meet the residency requirements.  If a same-sex couple was not married in D.C. but one of the parties now desires to get divorced in the District, they must first satisfy the residency requirements for the Court to have jurisdiction.

The increase in marriage certificate applications and ceremonies comes just months after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in U.S. v. Windsor which struck down the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) that provided that defined marriage for federal purposes as a union between one man and one woman.  The Supreme Court’s decision now allows married same-sex couples to qualify for many federal benefits that they had previously not been eligible to receive under DOMA.