Bill S7182-2013

Relates to the solemnization of marriage by certain officials on an Indian reservation

Provides that a judge or peacemaker judge of any Indian tribal court, a chief, a headman, or any member of any tribal body of any nation, tribe or band of Indians in this state, duly designated for purpose of officiating at marriages, may solemnize a marriage.

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Actions

  • Jun 18, 2014: SUBSTITUTED BY A9315
  • Jun 18, 2014: ORDERED TO THIRD READING CAL.1538
  • Jun 18, 2014: COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES
  • May 2, 2014: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

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Memo

BILL NUMBER:S7182

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the domestic relations law and the Indian law, in relation to solemnization of marriage by certain officials on an Indian reservation

This measure is being introduced at the request of the Office of Court Administration upon the request of the New York Federal-State Tribal Courts and Indian Nations Justice Forum. It would amend section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law by adding a new subdivision three-a and amending subdivision six and section 4 of the Indian Law to authorize tribal judges and various other tribal officials to solemnize marriages on Indian lands.

Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law permits leaders of various Societies for Ethical Culture, along with members of the clergy, to solemnize marriages. This, of course, is in addition to a broad range of Federal, State and local government officials also permitted to solemnize marriages. By contrast, the only civil Indian authorities who are permitted to solemnize marriages are Peacemakers, presumably referencing only the Peacemakers of the Seneca Nation of Indians, as previously mentioned in the statutory text. Indian Law § 4. No other Indian official enjoys authority to solemnize marriages.* Especially in light of the evident willingness of the State to confer marriage authority upon such an extensive array of religious, quasi-religious and public leaders and officials, this exclusion of most tribal authorities makes little sense. It is inconsistent with public policy, short-sighted and at odds with tribal custom and heritage, which place no less responsibility upon Indian authorities than that vested in non-Indian leaders who are granted marriage authority.

Enactment of this measure is important on two levels. It will recognize and acknowledge the respect that the tribal authorities who are the subject of this measure enjoy within both Indian and non-Indian communities. Perhaps more importantly, it also will underscore State government's efforts to encourage respect for Indian institutions.

This measure, which would take effect immediately, will have no fiscal impact.

Legislative History:

None. New Proposal.

* Op. AG 27 (1971). Marriages performed according to tribal custom where one or both parties are Indians are valid if religious in origin and performed in accordance with religious tradition. Other, non-religious marriages performed by tribal authorities would be subject to "serious doubt" as to their validity.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7182 IN SENATE May 2, 2014 ___________
Introduced by Sen. LITTLE -- (at request of the Office of Court Adminis- tration) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary AN ACT to amend the domestic relations law and the Indian law, in relation to solemnization of marriage by certain officials on an Indi- an reservation THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 11 of the domestic relations law is amended by adding a new subdivision 3-a to read as follows: 3-A. A JUDGE OR PEACEMAKER JUDGE OF ANY INDIAN TRIBAL COURT, A CHIEF, A HEADMAN, OR ANY MEMBER OF ANY TRIBAL COUNCIL OR OTHER GOVERNING BODY OF ANY NATION, TRIBE OR BAND OF INDIANS IN THIS STATE DULY DESIGNATED BY SUCH BODY FOR THE PURPOSE OF OFFICIATING AT MARRIAGES, OR ANY OTHER PERSONS DULY DESIGNATED BY SUCH BODY, IN KEEPING WITH THE CULTURE AND TRADITIONS OF ANY SUCH NATION, TRIBE OR BAND OF INDIANS IN THIS STATE, TO OFFICIATE AT MARRIAGES. S 2. Subdivision 6 of section 11 of the domestic relations law, as amended by chapter 39 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows: 6. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article to the contra- ry no marriage shall be solemnized by a public officer specified in this section, other than a judge of a federal district court for the north- ern, southern, eastern or western district of New York, a judge of the United States court of international trade, a federal administrative law judge presiding in this state, a judge or justice of the unified court system of this [State] STATE, a housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York, or a retired judge or justice of the unified court system or a retired housing judge of the civil court certified pursuant to paragraph (k) of subdivision two of section two hundred twelve of the judiciary law, NOR BY ANY OF THE PERSONS SPECIFIED IN SUBDIVISION THREE-A OF THIS SECTION, outside the territorial jurisdiction in which he or she was elected [or], appointed OR DULY DESIGNATED. Such a public
officer, however, elected or appointed within the city of New York may solemnize a marriage anywhere within such city. S 3. Section 4 of the Indian law, as amended by chapter 229 of the laws of 1957 and as renumbered by chapter 174 of the laws of 2013, is amended to read as follows: S 4. Marriage and divorce. The laws of the state relating to the capacity to contract marriage, the solemnization of marriage, the annul- ment of the marriage contract, and divorce, are applicable to Indians; and subject to the jurisdiction of the peacemakers' courts of the Seneca nation to grant divorces, the same courts shall have jurisdiction of actions arising thereunder. But Indians who have heretofore [contract] CONTRACTED marriage according to the Indian custom or usage, and shall cohabit as husband and wife, shall be deemed lawfully married. [Indian] AS PROVIDED BY SUBDIVISION THREE-A OF SECTION ELEVEN OF THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS LAW, marriages may be solemnized by [peacemakers within their jurisdiction with the same force and effect as by a justice of the peace] A JUDGE OR PEACEMAKER JUDGE OF ANY INDIAN TRIBAL COURT, A CHIEF, A HEADMAN, OR ANY MEMBER OF ANY TRIBAL COUNCIL OR OTHER GOVERNING BODY OF ANY NATION, TRIBE OR BAND OF INDIANS IN THIS STATE DULY DESIGNATED BY SUCH BODY FOR THAT PURPOSE, OR ANY OTHER PERSONS DULY DESIGNATED BY SUCH BODY, IN KEEPING WITH THE CULTURE AND TRADITIONS OF ANY SUCH NATION, TRIBE OR BAND OF INDIANS IN THIS STATE, TO OFFICIATE AT MARRIAGES. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

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