From: email@example.com (Terry Chan)
Subject: Re: How to get married w/o religious ceremonies?
Date: 1 Jun 1993 07:11:04 GMT
Organization: Department of Redundancy Department
Reply-To: TWChan@lbl.gov (Terry Chan)
Lee Rudolph forwards to a.f.u. an article from alt.atheism
stating, among other things, that the captain of a "boat"
can marry people,by which I take it to mean that the captain,
on his own authority (i.e., he is also not an ordained
minister or something like that) can perform marriages.
So, firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Mayne) writes, among other things:
+> I read somewhere that this is an urban legend.
Whereupon email@example.com sticks his nose in and sez:
+Will the sponsor of the line
+ "F. Ship captains, on their own authority, can perform marriages."
+from the alt.folklore.urban FAQ please stand up, identify h/hself, and
+then proceed to duke it out with Dennis Gray Jr. while Cap'n Kirk holds
firstname.lastname@example.org (Dennis Gray Jr.) wrote:
+>I assume it is similar for plane captains, but on a ship or ferry
+>boat, the captain has the authority to marry you by virtue that on his
+>ship, he is the law of the land.
+>Especially in international maritime
+>law. It reads something like: Upon the marriage of persons on the
+>high seas [...stuff deleted]
+>And all this from a couple of navigation classes. If you want I
+>will look up the exact part and post it for you...
Well, I entered that line in the AFU FAQ list. But lest Phil
Gustafson impale me with some of his scuba gear, I'll settle
for a discussion.
Dennis, your appeal to "international maritime law" sound good,
but I would appreciate any references you can supply on this
story. I have a reference to Cecil Adams' _More of the Straight
Dope_. In it, he states that "so far as I can tell, sea captains
in the U.S. cannot now and have not ever been able to perform
marriages at sea or anywhere else, unless they also happen to be
ministers or JPs [Justices of the Peace] or something."
He notes that the US Navy and the British Mercantile Marine Office
have taken the extraordinary step of "explicitly forbidding
captains to do freelance weddings." He quotes from the Code of
Federal Regulations, Title 32, Subtitle A, Chapter VI, Subchapter
A, Part 700, Subpart G, Rule 716, also known as 32 CFR 700.716.
In his quote from this section, it explicitly states that the
commanding officer cannot perform a marriage on board "his ship or
aircraft" nor can he permit a wedding to be performed onboard when
the craft is outside US territory unless the wedding is both in
accordance with local laws and there is a diplomatic or consular
official of the US onboard.
Adams also refers to the official logbook supplied by the British
Mercantile Marine Office that states that weddings performed by
the captain are not legal.
Anticipating Dennis' line of reasoning, Adams notes that this
belief probably arose from the hoary notion that the "captain
...is the supreme authority on the ship." He does note that
in the old USSR, captains were permitted to attest wills and
draw up documents regarding births and deaths (but NOT to
perform marriages). In performing these and other related duties,
the ship's captain essentially becomes the registrar of any such
events should they transpire.
Finally, Adams note that he checked seaman's guides dating back
to 1850 and found nothing supporting the other position.
If you have supporting information that captains do indeed have
such authority, I would love to see it. Moreover, Cecil Adams'
editor, Ed Zotti is an infrequent contributor to a.f.u. and we
can nail him bad if you have any evidence. Otherwise, you just
might sympathize with Gahan Wilson.
And no, Lee, I wouldn't let Captain Kirk hold my coat considering
that 90% of the Internet can't even get his middle name, "Terry"
Terry "Not Tiberious" Chan
Energy and Environment Division | Internet: TWChan@lbl.gov
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory |
Berkeley, California USA 94720 | Don't worry, I'm loaded.