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Photo ID to obtain marriage license?
Orr to propose bill in Legislature

By M.J. Ellington · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — A local senator wants people applying for marriage licenses to prove they are who they say they are with government-issued photo identification.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, who promised in his campaign to help curb illegal immigration, said that his SB-58 would affect illegal immigrants.

But Orr also cited identity theft and homeland security, denying that the bill is aimed at Hispanics.

“A marriage license is a first step toward getting legitimate within the system,” Orr said. “In this day of identity theft, people should be concerned about people getting government documents without showing proof of their identity.”

Under current law, Alabama applicants could get a marriage license with false identification, Orr said. Unless the marriage license applicants are very young, there is no requirement to show identification or that probate judges verify identity.

State law requires the judges only to verify that applicants are old enough to enter into a legal marriage contract or else have parent or guardian consent. Judges who fail to do so could face a $200 fine.

Laws, rulings disagree

Orr said most Alabama probate judges now ask for such identification. But he said federal law, state law, a state Supreme Court ruling and a related attorney general’s opinion do not agree on whether it is required. The result is a gray area, he believes the bill would clear up.

For U.S. citizens, an ID could include a driver license or other photo identification card issued by the state or federal government. Valid IDs for non-citizens could include a passport, a visa or other government issued non-citizen photo ID card.

Orr’s bill gives probate judges the authority to require a second form of identification such as a Social Security card or military ID.

Orr said he sought support from the state probate judges’ association but has not received its endorsement.

When Orr was running for office last fall against then-Morgan County Probate Judge Bobby Day, news media reported that Day was issuing marriage licenses to immigrants without requiring identification. Orr said these reports caught his attention but were not the main reason for his legislation.

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