After dating for about eight months in Taiwan in 1988-1989, Rose and I began to talk about getting married. I had just returned from Hong Kong after a visit in May and June 1989. Things were very turbulent in China at this time. I canceled my trip to Shanghai and Beijing. Instead, I took a side trip to Macau, which I still love to this day.

Before I met my future mother-in-law, Rose told me that her mother didn’t like the idea that we wanted to get married. Her mother had grown up in a Taiwan ruled by Japan, and she spoke very fluent Japanese. When I visited with Rose’s family, her mother was very pleased that I could speak Japanese. I could see she was visibly relieved. She later told Rose that she thought I was fine and she didn’t have a problem with us getting married. We began planning the ceremony for April to June 1990, and we had about a year or so to get ready. In early November 1989, my mother visited me in Taiwan and met Rose. We told her that we intended to get married in a few months. My mother and Rose’s mother got along very well and Rose’s sister would often translate for both of them.

After a couple of weeks, my mother told Rose and me that she was leaving in early December and she preferred that we get married before she left. And she added that Rose’s mother agreed with her. So we planned to get married in a civil ceremony followed by a church ceremony a month later. Rose’s mother was a strict Catholic and didn’t want us to live together until we got married in her church.

The government ceremony was very interesting. A female judge came up to me and asked in English if I really wanted to get married. She asked Rose the same question. There were five other couples in the ceremony. The judge told us to face each other and bow three times and we were married.

As a public administration professional, I help a lot of people pro bono with bureaucracy problems. This past week, a couple came to me to ask for assistance with getting married. On Guam, there is a five-day waiting period and each person must have an official birth certificate. The couple had U.S. passports, but neither had their birth certificate and they were not born on Guam. These are competent adults and they wanted to get married. The form they showed me from Public Health cited requirements from Public Law 16-73. After I checked the law and it deals with consumer credit – not marriage. Public Law 16-47 addresses waiting times and fees for marriages. The Guam Code at 19 GCA 3202 addresses marriage licenses.

Unless there is some hidden concept embedded in an obscure law, there doesn’t appear to be a birth certificate requirement. Also, why wait five days? These points should be reviewed.

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