Legislature Passes Change in Marriage Requirements

Mississippi legislators have voted to abolish the state's three-day waiting period and blood tests which were required prior to a marriage license being issued.

The Mississippi Circuit Clerks Association and state tourism officials strongly support the change.

Each year, more than two million couples tie the knot in the United States. In coming months, there could be an increase in the number of those couples who choose to get married in Mississippi.

That's because, by an 84 to 37 vote the Mississippi Senate has approved Senate Bill 2851, which eliminates some of the red tape.

"It's laws that were antiquated and we were really one of only four other states that had the syphilis tests which were the blood tests," said Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson. "The three day waiting period was initially set up so people would cool off, think about it, parents could talk you out of it and again I think we were the only state that had the three day waiting period. So, we're glad those laws were updated."

"I know that we were not competitive with some other states," said Lauderdale County tourism director Suzy Johnson. "That was one of the reasons we were pushing for it."

In Mississippi tourism is about the 6th largest service industry, providing thousands of jobs. According to them, for every $1 the state invest in tourism, there is about a $5 to $6 return.

While the new law is expected to especially benefit wedding destinations in Mississippi like Natchez and the Gulf Coast, local tourism officials say this could also lead to some benefits here.

The bill has now been sent to the governor to be signed. If approved, the changes could take effect July 1.

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