Laws and Lawyers

Shipwrecking A Widely-Held Belief

A scene from Star Trek's episode,
A scene from Star Trek’s episode, “The Balance of Terror,” where Captain Kirk says, “Since the days of the first wooden vessels, all shipmasters have had one happy privilege: that of uniting two people in the bonds of matrimony.”

Contrary to popular belief, ship captains do not have the authority to solemnize marriage. The belief persists so widely, however, that both the US Navy and British Mercantile Marine Office have adopted regulations that specifically prohibit captains from performing weddings. (see, for example, 32 CFR 700.716).


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