Skype Enables Gay “E-Marriage” For Texas Couple

Location’s a big enough issue when it comes to wedding planning, complicated even more by the current state of gay marriage in the United States. But here’s a new twist: Does everyone involved with a wedding have to be in the same room? And, if you take it one step further, can VOIP turn a ceremony honoring the love and commitment of two people into a legal marriage?

Texas-based partners Mark Reed and Dante Walkup decided to put that to the test this week for their own exchanging of vows. The two were married at the W Dallas Victory hotel in front of family, friends and a large projection screen upon which the officiant, marriage equality activist Sheila Alexander-Reid, performed the ceremony via Skype from Washington, D.C.. Reed and Walkup, having previously traveled to D.C. to file their marriage certificate, are now legally married in the eyes of the district.


Reed and Walkup’s “e-marriage” is being using as a test case for a potential solution for couples who want to get legally married in their home states, even if those states currently ban same-sex marriage. According to the Dallas Voice, “That’s why the couple is now working with legal experts and legislators from states where same-sex marriage is legal to draft statutes that would solidify the practice.”

According to Marketa Trimble, Associate Professor of Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the fact that this wedding took place via Skype has, in the long run, not much to do with its potential legality down the line: “E-marriage is great as long as that marriage is recognized not only in the state which administers the marriage (D.C. here) — meaning the state that issues the marriage license and marriage certificate — but also by the state where the couple lives,” she said via email. Texas does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

So, ostensibly, Reed and Walkup’s e-marriage is, on a legal basis, is just as valid as if the couple had traveled to D.C. and performed the ceremony there. As Reed told the Dallas Voice, though, using Skype was the better solution because:

“The reason we wanted to do it this way is because we wanted to have a wedding here in Dallas with our family and friends. It was very important that all of our family came. It was the first time they actually met, even though we’ve been together 10 years. If we had to go to D.C., there’s no way we could have had the people there who we wanted to be there.”

So, thanks to Skype (which had no comment on this story), Reed and Walkup were able to get legally married in front of their families, in the location of their choice. Which is exactly what they wanted.

UPDATE 12/3/10: Reed and Walkup were, according to Washington D.C.’s Director of Legislative, Intergovernmental & Public Affairs Leah H. Gurowitz, not legally married. A statement released reads:

Marriage statutes in the District of Columbia (dating back to 1901) require marriages to be celebrated within the jurisdictional and territorial boundaries of the city. Both the officiant and the parties to the marriage must be physically present at the ceremony performed in the District. The authorization to perform marriages issued by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia is not valid beyond the territorial limits of the city.

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