Get married on Zoom! New York Governor Cuomo permits online marriage licences

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It helps one to get health cover on their spouse’s company insurance if they lose their jobs. Over 20 million filed for doles in four weeks.

Couples can now organise a videoconference between them, the town clerk who approves marriage licences and the person solemnising the marriage.(Photo | AFP)

Weddings that have been postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown can now go ahead in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo has permitted marriage licences to be applied for and approved online.

Getting married while in isolation may not be the most romantic experience but it’s practical for some. Such couples are seeking to wed at this tough time because they can the share employer-provided health insurance of their spouse if they lose their jobs.

The US Department of Labor says that between mid-March and mid-April, more than 20 million people had lost their jobs and filed for unemployment benefits.

The state of New York required couples to complete their marriage applications in person until now. But because of the health emergency, marriage bureaus that issue marriage licences have been closed. Now, that requirement has been done away with as Governor Cuomo on Saturday signed an executive order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage licence remotely. The order is valid till May 18.

“There is now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage,” Cuomo was quoted as saying by news agency AP at his Saturday coronavirus briefing. “No excuse. You can do it by Zoom. Yes or no.”

This is how it works.

A couple seeking to get married downloads the marriage applications, fills them up and keeps them ready to be signed after the wedding ceremony.

A video conference is arranged with the couple, the witness or the person who will solemnise the marriage, and the town or city clerk who is authorised to issue the marriage licence.

The ceremony is conducted over the videoconference, and the couple signs the marriage licence and sends it electronically to the witness and clerk to sign. The authorised marriage licence is then sent back to the couple.

Recently, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about allowing marriages to be conducted online to enable couples to stay within the medical insurance safety net. He said it was a good idea but pointed out that city residents could get health insurance by other means too, including the NYC Care Program.

“We don't want people to feel like, ‘Oh, my God, unless I'm married, I can't get on someone's plan, I have no options’,” he was quoted as saying AP.