October 22, 2009


MSU Law Professors Adam Candeub and Mae Kuykendall Seek to Modernize Marriage with the Legal E-Marriage Project

East Lansing, MI – Michigan State University College of Law Professors Adam Candeub and Mae Kuykendall announce the creation of the Legal E-Marriage Project, a clearinghouse for legislative proposals to institute "e-marriage." Their proposal has the potential to alter the landscape of the marriage culture wars, as well as solve the problems that arise when a great distance separates couples who wish to marry. Information about the project is available at E-Marriage Project and includes a link to their article,"E-Marriage: Breaking the Marriage Monopoly."

Professors Candeub and Kuykendall argue that states should permit a couple to marry under the laws of whichever location (in or out of the authorizing state) the couple chooses. The professors explain that the couple's physical presence within the particular state authorizing their marriage has never been a requirement the states must impose in order to marry couples. Couples have for centuries married by proxy, mail, and telephone. The military has for many years recognized such marriages as legal for purposes of spousal allowances and death benefits, they explain.

The proposal would allow same sex couples to marry in California under the laws of Massachusetts or Vermont, if those states enacted e-marriage provisions. Even though the couple's home state would not be required to recognize the marriage, the couple could celebrate their marriage at home in front of friends at their setting of choice. The same is true for couples who'd like to enter a covenant marriage, in which the couple can express a higher degree of commitment by agreeing to more onerous divorce procedures. Covenant marriages are only offered by Louisiana and Arizona. With a state e-marriage enactment, these states could offer the symbolic extra dimension to marriages that take place outside their borders.

The professors offer their proposal as a way to soften the culture wars over marriage and to refute suggestions the state should get out of the marriage business.

Quite the opposite, say Professors Candeub and Kuykendall. "The state needs to fight marital fraud, harness modern technology to make marriage more accessible, and open its symbolic value to a variety of communities both online and off line," Professor Kuykendall says.

Professor Bryan Wildenthal of Thomas Jefferson School of Law comments: "[The proposal] is ground-breaking, an innovative approach to the entire issue of how law should regulate family relationships."

Details of the Legal E-Marriage Project can be found at "E-Marriage: Breaking the Marriage Monopoly" can also be accessed at

For information, contact either Professor Kuykendall at or 517-432-6894, or Professor Candeub at or 517-432-6906.


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