You’ve been dreaming of this day your entire life. You and your one true love will be joining your eternal souls in the resplendent, holy matrimony of… a Google+ hangout. Scenes like this used to be pretty rare (and usually involved deployed military members), but as The New York Times points out, proxy weddings via Internet have become increasingly common—and increasingly controversial with the questions of immigrant marriage fraud and legitimate consent at the forefront.
Online marriages are, for now, entirely legal, nor are they trailblazers by any means—we even have documentation of marriages via telegram. But although technological advancements now allow us to at least be certain that both parties even exist, Michigan State University College of Law professor Adam Candeub told The New York Times:
Part of the reason for having the two people come and appear before a priest or a judge is to make sure it is a freely chosen thing. There are some problems with willy-nilly allowing anyone around the world to marry.
So while some of these web-based marriages act as a means of circumventing immigration laws and nothing more, there’s also a more sinister issue that can arise: human trafficking. Proxy marriages allow human traffickers a quick, and more importantly legal way of bringing women and children into another country where they’ll be forced into sex work.
And that’s not to say video chat matrimony is all bad; plenty of perfectly legitimate marriages occur over web. But if we want to keep our Skype ceremonies around for those in need, there are going to need to be some major regulation overhauls. You can read about more specific cases in the full New York Times piece. [The New York Times]