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Why Pastors will now charge more to preside over weddings

It will now be costly to preside over weddings under the Marriage Act after the court dismissed a bid by the clergy to block increased fees and new licences.

Consequently, a government directive on marriages stands and the controversial law takes effect immediately.

According to a gazette notice by the Attorney-General that spelt out changes in the Marriage Act, all ministers of faith are required to apply for renewal of licences, file returns of all marriages celebrated to date, return all marriage certificate books and submit church records of all marriages to be celebrated.

Bishop Mark Kariuki, who is the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) chairman, together with the East African Centre for Law and Justice had sued the government, claiming that since failure to comply with the set requirements would result in the cancellation of church licences, it would be impossible for thousands of Kenyans to celebrate and legalise their marriages.

Even though High Court judge George Odunga had suspended that section of the Marriage Act which the Attorney-General had directed to take effect by November 1, 2014, Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the directive through a gazette notice did not discriminate against Christians.

However Justice Ngugi said church ministers were asked to return the marriage books and obtain new ones consequently, dismissing the clergy’s allegations.

“I have not been able to find any violation of Christian faith. The Marriage Act requires that all marriages and ministers should be registered, hence there is no omission with a likelihood to cause discrimination,” the Justice Ngugi ruled.