VIRGINIA

Virginia marriage law unfair to Sikhs, judge rules

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FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - A Fairfax County judge has ruled in favor of four Sikh men who challenged a Virginia law that required them to pay $500 to perform marriage ceremonies.

The law exempts ordained ministers from various faiths from posting a $500 bond to perform weddings. The Sikh men said the law discriminates against them because their faith has no ordained ministers.

In a ruling Friday, Judge Dennis Smith sided with the Sikhs. He said the requirement to post a bond is an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of religion. He ordered that the men be licensed to perform marriages without having to pay the fee.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, which represented the Sikhs, on Monday urged the state legislature to change the law to reflect the judge's ruling.

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