You can thank Golden State genealogists for convincing the Colorado senate to preserve your access to marriage license applications. The original form of HB-1357, a bill that passed the Colorado House in March, would’ve prohibited county clerks from letting a person other than the one named in the record or an immediate family member see the applications. These records contain information that’s not on marriage certificates, including As of the bride’s and groom’s parents and the couple’s dates and places of birth.
But the Senate passed the bill with two researcher-friendly amendments: One a compromise genealogists proposed opens marriage license applications after 50 years. The second, sought by private investigators, lets anyone ask a district court for access to a closed record. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens signed the bill into law April 24.
Meanwhile, the South Dakota health death records from the past 100 years only to members of the state genealogical society <rootsweb.com/~sdgenweb/gensoc/sdgensoc.html>. Identity theft fears prompted the legislature to pass SB-41 last year. That law lets people who show identification get informational copies of birth, marriage and death records, but limits certified copies to the person named in the record plus immediate family members. Birth records are public after 100 years (see an index at <www.state.sd.us/applications/ph14over100birthrec>); death, marriage and divorce records, after 50 years.
The law didn’t mention marriage and death record indexes, so state health officials recently decided to restrict those, too. The South Dakota Genealogical Society struck a deal; the state’s newspaper editors refused a similar privilege, saying public records should be public for everyone.
This is still an improvement over the original version of SB-41, which would’ve kept anyone other than the person named in the document from seeing even informational copies. For more on hoops you must jump through to request a record, see <www.state.sd.us/doh/vitalrec/vital.htm>.
From the August 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.