My heart was filled with joy at the extremely unexpected but equally pleasant news that a young couple had the guts and brains to finally slap Lebanon’s religious courts in the face. The pair, in a beautifully brilliant exploitation of loopholes our men in robes must have missed, legally got married in a country where marriage is governed my religious courts and powers, not the civil government, which merely recognizes these marriages or marriages abroad.
Legally, everything has been sorted out and that was thanks to provisions by visionaries in former governments. The main one of course was our relatively newfound ability to strike off our sect from our IDs, which we have former Minister of Interior and fellow scout Ziad Baroud to thank for. When both parties struck off their sects, they were no longer obligated to follow their respective sects’ laws and could adhere to a particular Article 60 L R that allows them to wed a civil marriage with a contract and financial disclosure both parties agree upon and is overseen and written up by a notary public. For a clear, step-by-step process, read Najib’s post here.
Step1: Strike out the mention of both Kholoud’s and Nidal’s sects from their respective IDs to prove before the law that they are not affiliated with a sect that forces them to marry before a religious court. They thus acquired the right to hold a civil marriage as per Article 60 L.R.
Step2: Obtain a form signed by the mayor proving that there are no objections to their marriage and put the marriage announcement up on a billboard 15 days before the wedding date to make sure that there were no objections to it. The announcement was supposed to be published in the Official Gazette or at least two newspapers, but in order to prevent any hindrances, Kholoud and Nidal just posted the announcement on the doors of their parents’ houses and on the door of their own house.
Step3: Obtain a legal document signed by a notary public after both parties chose the articles included in the marriage contract as well as a financial disclosure that guarantees the rights of each party to the marriage.
Having done all that, Kholoud and Nidal signed their civil marriage contract on November 10, 2012 and the request is now in the hands of the Consultations Committee at the Ministry of the Interior pending its official announcement.
excerpt from BlogBaladi
What This Means
It means that I don’t have to travel to get married anymore. I, like so many of you, don’t want a priest or sheikh marrying us. I refuse to adhere to archaic religious laws and courts, and would much rather have a modern, logical, rational and pragmatic set of laws and contracts that represent and govern my union with my future spouse. Things like child custody, marital rape, domestic violence and other topics outlawed in most of the civilized world, but remain sanctified and sanctioned by religious courts in Lebanon, will hopefully come to an end (or at least be punishable now). With civil marriage, hopefully, human beings will be dealt with as such, human beings, and not male vs female, or Sunni vs Maronite for example.
Of course, I am being too optimistic and that this, frankly, overreach via loopholes, will not solve our problems overnight. However, it signifies the next step in destroying the legal power religious institutions have in this tiny broken country. Just like we saved little kids and minors from religious laws back in the 90s, we can save women too and solidify our intents to transform Lebanon into a secular country where God stays in his churches and mosques, away from court rooms and parliament. A country where human beings are equal under law. Then, and only then, can we talk of “one lebanon” or a “united lebanon” when we are all actually united under one law, not 18.
Appeal to the Ministry
The move by Khouloud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish is legally sound. You can ok this, and it seems you have already promised the couple you will. Please do minister, it is a small role to play and even though you will be met with fierce opposition from religious institutions, adhere to the law and grant these two awesome people, and so many more like them, the right to be free from religious courts. Look at Ziad Baroud’s contribution, which at the time was viewed as too minimal and insignificant. Look where it has gotten us today!
Please, don’t fail us. Ok this wedding and write it down in your census books. My future, and the future of so many others like me, rests in your hands. With that stroke of a pen, you can introduce what will hopefully be a chain reaction that will make Lebanon seem livable again for me, at least on paper and in theory. Let’s put the religious figures back in their places and retake our democracy and freedom.
A Word to the Religious
Do not deny us this basic human right because of your personal faiths. Go get married in churches and mosques, no one will stop you from doing that, ever. Don’t deny people who chose not to though, the right to get married. You have no right to force something upon someone else. If you think you do, move to Egypt or Iran or Saudi Arabia. You should all support this effort, whether you are religious or not. Religions are supposed to be about love and tolerance, this is everyone’s chance to prove that to folks like me. Don’t clap when a mufti fatwas this move. Don’t cheer when some shiite religious figures claim this is an “Israeli conspiracy” in some warped, silly narrative. Be human, be fair, be modern. Grant people the choice, even if it is not something you agree with. Freedom to choose is what makes a democracy, let’s stop pretending to be a democracy and actually be one, at least when it comes to the very basics: our personal affairs.
Best of luck to Khouloud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish. You are our heroes and the whole country and its youth are looking and waiting to see what will become of your heroic, Rosa-Parks-style stance in the face of oppression.