Q&A: Isn’t there a provision in the US Constitution about interstate legal documents?

February 23, 2013 | By

Question by Joseph: Isn't there a provision in the US Constitution about interstate legal documents?
I could have sworn that I heard in a history class that somewhere in the US Constitution there is a provision requiring all US states to recognize legal documents issued by other states, whether they be driver's licenses or wedding licenses.
Am I wrong?
And if not, how would that apply to the gay marriage controversy, what with some states allowing it and others refusing?

Best answer:

Answer by du nomad
You're referring to the "full faith and credit" clause. It provides that each state must respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of other states. While every state does, indeed, give full faith and credit to other state's drivers licenses, it is not because of the Constitution . . . it is a voluntary action on the part of the states done more out of a practical need than anything else. The Clause essentially says that court judgments, records, and such in one state must be given equal treatment as if they had been issued in the state in question. It has never been interpreted as requiring that states recognize the marriage of another state. In fact, several states frequently refused (legally) to recognize inter-racial marriages, even if those marriages were legal in the state of issuance. Until the US Supreme Court struck down all laws banning inter-racial marriage in 1967 (a ruling which had absolutely no basis in the "full faith and credit" clause, but rather on the rights of the individuals themselves) it was perfectly legal.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Filed in: Weddings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.