So we all know I’m a nerd. I think that’s a given by now, right? Well, here’s a bit more evidence of my nerd status, or, as someone told me today, my need for a hobby 🙂 I offer this information with no judgement or comment; it is simply of interest to me as a nerd, and if the number of questions I get about it in OPD are of any indication, it’s also of interest to many others. I’m also not interested in opening up a discussion about the pros or cons of the Religious Marriage Celebrant category; I firmly believe that if this hadn’t been a possibility, we still wouldn’t have marriage equality today.

Those of you who’ve been paying attention will know that when marriage equality became a thing on 9 December 2017, there was the possibility for Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrants who performed civil ceremonies to put their hand up and say they had a religious objection to same-sex marriage, and therefore move from being Category C Marriage Celebrants and become a Category D Religious Marriage Celebrant. This would allow them to refuse to marry a same-sex couple and not be sued for discrimination. This was only open to celebrants who were registered on 9 December 2017, and it was only possible for them to make the change for three months; by 9 March 2018 any celebrants who wanted to move needed to have done so, and the option will never be available again.

(Please note this is different from Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrants who conduct ceremonies for independent religious organisations; they also moved into Category D, and new people will always be able to become such celebrants.)

My training buddy, Cheryl Landsberry, and I were pretty interested in how many Category C celebrants decided to move into Category D, so after 9 March 2017 we counted. There was no way to filter the celebrant listings on the Register of Marriage Celebrants, we just had to go through page by page and count how many had the notation Religious Marriage Celebrant under their names. We decided to also include the numbers of Ministers of Religion of Recognised Denominations (Category A), and Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrants who conduct ceremonies for independent religious organisations (previously Category C, now Category D). This is what we came up with at the end of March 2018:

I was interested to see if there’d been much change after the first year of this new category. I’ve heard anecdotal reports that some celebrants have chosen to jump back from Category D into Category C because they’ve seen a negative impact on their enquiry rate from having to call themselves Religious Marriage Celebrants in all their advertising. So I’ve spent the last few days recounting. (Once again, yes, I’m a nerd who needs a hobby.) This is what I came up with as at 10 June 2019:

As you can see, there’s been some changes. It’s impossible for us to know which celebrants have jumped from Category D to Category C, but it is possible to see that the numbers in Category D have decreased in the 15 months since this category closed. The number of celebrants performing civil ceremonies has also increased in this time, so the percentage is less helpful, but it still shows a decrease in Religious Marriage Celebrants as a percentage of celebrants performing civil ceremonies.

Again, I provide this information with no judgement or comment, just to satisfy the nerds out there like me who were interested 🙂