protesting wall street
1:06 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Why King County nixed woman’s marriage to a corporation in Seattle

A woman married a corporation in Seattle yesterday, and today King County says it was all a mistake.

“It was just an error,” a King County spokesperson said of why the woman was allowed to get a license and marry “Corporation Person." An error the county said it has fixed by voiding the license and returning the $64 fee.

“There was a lot of confusion and (the clerk) was not able to get a hold of her direct supervisor nor the Department of Health, so just in the interest of just trying to resolve the situation she erroneously took the license application,” said Cameron Satterfield, a spokesperson for the county.

Anatomy of a marriage

The nuptial saga all started as a publicity stunt to draw attention to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition of corporations as people in the controversial Citizens United decision in 2010.

Angela Marie Vogel, a local activist with ties to #MicCheckWallSteet and a initiative campaign to nullify Citizens United’s effects in Seattle, used a figure from an art installation in a downtown Seattle park to marry “Corporate Person.”

“The purpose of the wedding is to highlight the insidious concept of corporate personhood – and its damaging impact on our community and the autonomy of our city council's legislative powers,” according to a press release of the event.

The ceremony was conducted by Pastor Rich Lang of University Temple UMC and was staged by Envision Seattle, the group behind Initiative 103. If enacted, the initiative would provide a community bill of rights which strips corporate personhood and other judge-made constitutional "rights" such as free speech within the city of Seattle, the group said.

Jeff Reifman, Initiate 103’s Campaign Manager, said they hope to qualify for the 2013 ballot in Seattle by collection over 20,000 signatures of Seattle residents by mid-September.

“We’re doing great right now,” Reifman said. “We’re on track with where we currently want to be with collecting signatures and we should collect enough of them in the next 60 days or so.”

Nuptials voided

While the stunt received plenty of local media attention, the marriage itself appears to be over, officially anyway.

Screen grab from the group's Facebook page.

A King County official wrote on the group’s Facebook page that the marriage license had been voided.

Satterfield explains:

“... when either party to a marriage is incapable of consent then its void, no longer valid, or not valid period. So that’s the basis in which we went ahead and voided the application. We went ahead and did that ourselves within our office because by the time it would’ve gone to the state, they would’ve voided it anyways. So we just avoided that altogether and voided it here.”

Vogel said roughly 40 people accompanied her to the courthouse and that she had all the proper paperwork with her. In the video below, you can see how the group convinced the clerk to go through with the process. Vogel added that the clerk was professional and courteous.

“King County said that we couldn’t be married because ‘Corporate Person’ isn’t old enough to be married,” Vogel joked. She doesn’t have any definitive plans for reinstating her marriage to “Corporate Person.”