A story in Tuesday’s New York Times sets the familiar scene of a bride and groom tying the knot as guests looked upon them. The very unfamiliar part though is that it was all being done over Skype while the bride, an American citizen, was in Queens, New York, and the groom in Bangladesh.
According to the Times’ report, this “proxy marriage,” one where the bride and/or groom is physically absent, is part of a growing trend among immigrants, and it’s causing concern among some as it raises the potential of marriage fraud.
One company established seven years ago conducts 400 to 500 proxy weddings each year, according to the Times. Operations manager for the North Carolina-based company Proxy Marriage Now, George Andrews, told the Times it has seen a 12 to 15 percent increase in business each year. Some of these proxy marriages are for members of the military, but the Times reported the company saying non-military proxy marriages being up 40 percent.
With the potential for such a system to be abused, some are concerned about fraud from those seeking citizenship through marriage. The Times reported officials from the Department of Homeland Security saying a marriage over the Internet would most likely be flagged as suspicious in a citizenship review.
Still, Michigan State University College of Law professor Adam Candeub told the Times not having people physically present might negate the purpose of making sure both parties are entering into the union freely.
“There are some problems with willy-nilly allowing anyone around the world to marry,” he said.
Only a few states in America allow proxy marriages — California, Colorado, Texas and Montana. The marriage described by the Times is technically registered in Bangladesh because it is not legal in New York
Read more about the trend of proxy marriages taking place, especially in the Islamic culture, through Skype or Google hangouts in the New York Times’ article here.
(H/T: Daily Mail)