Marriage by proxy

by Harry on March 11, 2008

Apparently, in Montana two people can marry, and presumbly live out an entire marriage, without ever meeting (as long as they are not incarcerated). They can just, like, text each other or something. Facebook should get in on this.

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Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » Weird marriage-related links
03.12.08 at 2:46 pm



shpx.ohfu 03.11.08 at 1:43 pm

Thank goodness the Republican Party is invoking the power of the Federal Government and amending the constitution to protect the sanctity of heterosexual marriage from the depredations of the homos.


Ingrid Robeyns 03.11.08 at 1:45 pm

How weird. Yet there are surely also marriage laws which are weird at the other end of the spectrum. If I am not mistaken, the Belgian law requires spouses to share a household and live together. Although of course no-one is checking this, I think one can have a perfectly happy marriage with one’s partner living in another (distant) place, and only spending long weekends and holidays together. In fact, many academics spend years like that, since they each have academic jobs (or PhD positions) hundreds of miles/kilometers away from eachother.


mitterko 03.11.08 at 2:02 pm

In comparison with some of the standards for marriage in Israel, the difference is quite striking. Requiring a detailed genealogical search proving one’s heritage seems a bit much, but at least it’s not phoning it in.


Matt 03.11.08 at 2:10 pm

My impression is that marriage-by-proxy must have been at some times more common, especially where and when travel was difficult and arrainged marriages not uncommon. Part of why I think this is that marriage by proxy is explicitly ruled out as a way to get immigration benefits unless there are bonafide religious reasons for not seeing the other spouse before marriage. (There are obvious fraud-prevention reasons for the restriction, too, but I suspect it must have been a not-too-rare practice to be worth of note.) I expect that such things would not be too uncommon in diaspora populations where arrainged or semi-arraninged marriage is common. (The dual proxy rule seems more likely to be unusual to me.) I don’t know why this should be so in Montana, though- maybe people couldn’t travel because of too much snow?


ajay 03.11.08 at 2:28 pm

Well, the article says it’s a fairly recent law – from around WW2 – and may have had something to do with allowing servicemen to get married while overseas. Which is fair enough, because you might want your sweetheart to get your death benefits or whatever.

I’m thinking this could be a great setup for a rom-com. “The Proxy Bride”. Lots of comic potential as the proxy bride tries to get her boyfriend to commit, even though the two of them are getting married several times a week.


jlr 03.11.08 at 2:42 pm

Proxy marriage was not uncommon amongst the nobility in medieval Europe (I don’t know about double-proxy marriage, though). These were, of course, largely marriages arranged for political or economic reasons. I think the parties probably wanted to get these aspects of the marriage underway quickly, or cement them, to keep the other side from backing out, before they could get the bride all packed up with her trousseau. They were always followed up with a face-to-face ceremony soon thereafter.


chris y 03.11.08 at 3:04 pm

This would be a great way to consumate a blogcrush.


chris y 03.11.08 at 3:10 pm

I don’t know about double-proxy marriage, though

I believe double proxy marriages were carried out in the middle ages where both bride and groom were children – not uncommon in cementing royal alliances.


Crystal 03.11.08 at 4:00 pm

What Chris and JLR said – marriage by proxy was common amongst royalty and nobility in the Middle Ages, in order to cement the commitment in an era when travel was difficult and slow. The couple might not see one another for months to a year, and this way neither one could back out of the agreement.

In this day and age, I’m trying (and failing) to think of why a married couple would want to spend their lives living entirely apart. While Montana’s poor job market might be a reason for a long-distance marriage – if one person owned a ranch, the other was an office worker, neither could move but there were no jobs for the latter. Academia, as Ingrid mentioned, is another area where commuter marriages are common. Still, even these couples spend some of their time together.


SusanC 03.11.08 at 5:52 pm

In this day and age, I’m trying (and failing) to think of why a married couple would want to spend their lives living entirely apart.

A modern problem is that (a) both partners have jobs and (b) their jobs require tham to be on different continents. (Frequently seen in academia). I guess this was less of a problem in the past, although, for example, sailors were at sea for a long time.


lindsey 03.11.08 at 6:32 pm

They can just, like, text each other or something. Facebook should get in on this.

The use of ‘like’ in the appropriate Coastie manner makes you that much cooler. And you should start a Facebook group to petition the inclusion of these types of marriages in their relationship status options. Because as well all know, no relationship is official until it is Facebook official.


vivian 03.12.08 at 1:32 am

I know an Israeli (with a US citizenship too) who wanted to marry her Brazilian boyfriend. Couldn’t do it in Israel (expletives deleted). Tried to marry in Brazil, but couldn’t move the bureaucratic wheels before they had to return. So they made a brief stop in New York, got married, had lunch, and arranged with two male Brazilian friends to have a proxy wedding at a later date. I am very disappointed that they didn’t have any video of the two men to shock the many many people in all three countries who would find that shocking.


DHN 03.12.08 at 9:48 pm

And when your proxy spouse dies, you inherits a picture of her money.


Joshua W. Burton 03.14.08 at 8:31 pm

In Israel, the officiant can appear by proxy. The usual dodge for Israeli Jews barred from state-sanctioned marriage (a cohen marrying a divorcée, a non-Orthodox convert marrying a pedigreed Jew, a mamzer marrying anybody) has been, since the founding of the state, a quick flight to Cyprus. But sometime in the 1970s, the Paraguayan embassy stepped in and very obligingly made it possible to marry in Asunción in absentia. You pick up the paperwork at their embassy in Mevaseret Zion (one of only two up there, instead of down in Tel Aviv/Ramat Gan), have your wedding, drop it off, and wait for the happy event to be solemnized in South America and the certificate to come back to the embassy.

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