WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

June means summer and the promise of long, lazy days at the beach, which might be why this is the time of year the United Nations observes World Oceans Day and the U.S. celebrates National Oceans Month, in order to raise awareness of the seven seas, what Melville called “the watery part of the world.” In that vein, we’ve asked Skipper Ken Jennings to navigate us through four maritime myths that refuse to die. It turns out that none of them really hold water.

Ocean Myth #1: Sea Captains Can Marry People.

Well, yes, sea captains can marry someone. In fact, in eleven states and many foreign ports, a sea captain can now marry another seafarer of the same sex. But what they’re not allowed to do is marry other people—that is, officiate at wedding ceremonies, pronounce that couples arrrr! now man and wife.


The popular romance with the idea of a wedding-planning skipper is so deeply engrained that both the United States and British navies have had to issue rules explicitly reminding their officers that they’re not allowed to perform weddings at sea. (Sort of makes you wonder how many mixups over unlicensed marriages led to these new rules.) The same goes for civilian captains. Every U.S. state has its own list of people whose job titles allow them to solemnize marriages (typically judges, ministers, mayors, and the like) but so far, no state has specifically added “salty sea-dogs” to the roster.

Of course, if a skipper really needed to officiate at a lot of weddings (like, say, Captain Stubing on ABC’s The Love Boat) there are workarounds. In some states, like California and Massachusetts, the skipper could come ashore and file for a 24-hour marriage-performing power-up at his or her local courthouse. Alternately, an outfit called the Universal Life Church claims that every state but Pennsylvania and Virginia will legally recognize marriages performed by one of its 18 million clergy members—most of them regular folks who paid $5 online in order to order to be “ordained.” I’m sure that some of them, somewhere, are even sea captains. You may now kiss the bride, matey.

Quick Quiz: Before Gavin MacLeod first donned the freshly creased white uniform of The Love Boat’s Captain Stubing, he appeared for seven seasons on what other legendary TV hit?

Ken Jennings is the author of Because I Said So!, Brainiac, Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

Phil254


quality posts: 5 Private Messages Phil254

He was Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.


WaltAmante


quality posts: 0 Private Messages WaltAmante

I thought he was Joseph "Happy" Haines on McHale's Navy.

jcolag


quality posts: 8 Private Messages jcolag
in eleven states and many foreign ports, a sea captain can now marry another seafarer of the same sex



Wait, what!?

They can officiate gay marriage between sailors, but nobody else? That's awfully specific. Is there a history, here, or just a matter of poorly-drafted legislation?

dfwhokie


quality posts: 3 Private Messages dfwhokie
jcolag wrote:Wait, what!?

They can officiate gay marriage between sailors, but nobody else? That's awfully specific. Is there a history, here, or just a matter of poorly-drafted legislation?



The joke slipped past you. The heading reads: "Sea Captains Can Marry People." And, of course they can. So can we all. (We can get married.)

wwinch


quality posts: 1 Private Messages wwinch

To me, he'll always be Big Chicken from Hawaii Five-0.

mossygreen


quality posts: 72 Private Messages mossygreen
wwinch wrote:To me, he'll always be Big Chicken from Hawaii Five-0.



Me too! I was going to post this, but you have relieved me of all responsibility!

SESteve


quality posts: 15 Private Messages SESteve

I've officiated five marriages as a Universal Life Church minister over the past thirteen years (and so far they've all stayed married). When I signed up, it didn't even cost $5. I just sent them an email and I was automatically ordained. The couple still has to get a marriage license at a county courthouse for it to be official, but that's the same with any marriage, regardless of the officiant.

rh48


quality posts: 2 Private Messages rh48

Another ULC minister here for 15 years. I've never officiated a wedding but a friend that I ordained has performed a couple.

Has anyone challenged Pennsylvania and Virginia not recognizing ULC weddings? Screams of religious discrimination to me.

dhkendall


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dhkendall
rh48 wrote:
Has anyone challenged Pennsylvania and Virginia not recognizing ULC weddings? Screams of religious discrimination to me.



The Commonwealths (at least those two) might just have concern about the low entry bar of ULC ministers (ie "anyone") as opposed to the training that ministers, judges, and the like have.

Not saying that it's right, or wrong, but this is just what it seems like would be their reason for disallowing it.

jawlz


quality posts: 12 Private Messages jawlz

My wife and I were married by a ULC minister. Fully legal in California (honestly, depending on what *county* you are getting married in in California, it can be very unlikely that they'll even check to verify that your officiant actually has the required affiliation to conduct a marriage at all).

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 7 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

Guest Blogger

The ULC doesn't charge for its ordination, but a certificate will set you back $5. I just assume everyone paid the $5. Why would anyone join the fake clergy and not get a certificate?!?

chaosrunner


quality posts: 0 Private Messages chaosrunner

In PA, you don't need an officiant at all:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-uniting_marriage

My father and step-mother got married in a Quaker-style ceremony.