Gay couple’s Skype wedding annulled in DC court

Well, it was super romantic and sweet while it lasted.

A gay couple who circumvented a Texas gay marriage ban by marrying in the state via a Washington DC officiant and the web-based video calling service Skype has had their marriage annulled by a court in the District. While gay marriage is legal in DC, the couple, Mark and Dante Walkup, received a letter from the officiant informing them that theirs was not because they were not physically present in Washington DC at the time of the wedding.

The letter, posted in full on a Dallas news blog, informs the couple they will have to re-marry in DC if they wish to- well, be married. But the Walkups say they asked about that very stipulation when they filed for their marriage license in May, and were told that only the officiant of the ceremony need be in DC to perform the rites.

“In good faith, we planned our wedding accordingly because we thought we were talking to the experts,” Mark says. He said he was additionally miffed by the lack of any notice from the court that their license was under review in the first place. Neither the couple nor the officiant were contacted by officials seeking information about the circumstances or geographical whereabouts of their marriage.

Both Mark and an expert on “e-marriage” law told the blog that the most likely scenario involved court action based on a complaint, which is said to be unusual:

“It was based on homophobia or politics or both,” Reed-Walkup says. It’s unknown at this point who initially took issue with the Walkups’ marriage and complained to the court. A law professor who specializes in “e-marriage” tells Unfair Park that “there’s simply no reason for the court to do something like this.”

“[Courts] don’t flyspeck other people’s marriages,” says Professor Mae Kuykendall at the Michigan State University College of Law.

Furthermore, Kuykendall says, the fact that a non-party to the marriage apparently acted to have it annulled is even stranger. (And sadder- who sits in their house thinking, “those two dudes are happily married now and this cannot stand!”)

Usually, this is the kind of thing seen in divorce proceedings, or perhaps when heirs want to try and retroactively prove a marriage was invalid, Kuykendall says. But for an uninvolved third party to rule against a marriage in this way? Kuykendall says “it may not be the best reasoned bureaucratic action that’s ever taken place.”

The couple say they’re likely to travel to DC to get married, and are looking into their legal options regarding the action.