Gin marriage law

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Gin marriage laws were laws passed in several American states in the 1930s that required waiting periods of several days between getting a marriage license and marrying. They were passed as part of a Prohibition-era moral panic over the idea of couples getting married while drunk.

In 1927, The Pittsburgh Press said, "It was believed that a three-day cooling off would temper the ardor of unruly impetuous maids and swains."[1]



California passed a gin marriage law in 1928 sponsored by George W. Rochester.[2] It was criticized for decreasing the number of weddings.[3] In the first nine months after the law there were 5786 fewer marriages that the same time the previous year.[4] The Human Betterment Foundation praised the law noting that in 1932 in Los Angeles 569 licensees went unclaimed after the end of the waiting period most of which the HBF said were probably "freak marriages, fraudulent marriages, drunken marriages, runaway marriages and others whose abandonment was a gain to all concerned.[5] There was an attempted repeal in 1935,[6] and again in 1939.[7]


Idaho passed a gin marriage law that went into effect May 5, 1931.[8] This caused many to travel to Washington to get married.[9] It was repealed in 1933 due to exodus of marriages to other states it was causing.[10]

New York[edit]

The New York state law requiring a three day waiting period was passed in 1936 championed by Jane Hedges Todd.[11]


Oregon passed a gin marriage law in 1933, it required a four days wait.[12]


There was a push for a gin marriage law in Washington in 1939 heavily backed by the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs. Vice president of the WSFWC Mrs. A. B. Swenssen said "we women feel many divorces are the result of hasty marriages, many of them made while young people are under the influence of liquour".[13]


Wyoming passed its gin marriage law in 1931. It required a five-day wait. Number of weddings subsequently decreased.[14]


  1. ^ "Reno, Divorce Mecca, Now Haven of Wests Elopers". The Pittsburgh Press, Sep 12, 1927.
  2. ^ "'Gin Marriage' law repeal move seen". Berkeley Daily Gazette, Dec 23, 1932.
  3. ^ "The gin marriage law". The Lodi Sentinel, Jul 28, 1928.
  4. ^ "Gin Marriage Law Hardest Blow: Cupid". San Jose News, Nov 19, 1928.
  5. ^ "The 'Anti-Gin' Marriage Statute". Prescott Evening Courier, Feb 18, 1933.
  6. ^ "California to kill gin marriage law". Spokane Daily Chronicle, Jun 6, 1935.
  7. ^ "Gin marriage law under heady fire". St. Petersburg Times, Feb 7, 1939.
  8. ^ "Gin marriage law is damper". The Spokesman-Review, Jan 1, 1933.
  9. ^ "Cupid deserts stand in Idaho". The Spokesman-Review, Jun 7, 1931.
  10. ^ "Gin marriage law killed for Idaho". Spokane Daily Chronicle, Jan 20, 1933.
  11. ^ Thomas Kaplan. "When a Wait of One Day Feels Like One Too Long". New York Times, July 11, 2011.
  12. ^ "Gin marriage law means 4 days waiting". Eugene Register-Guard, Jun 9, 1933.
  13. ^ "Says Gin Marriage Law Sure to Pass". Spokane Daily Chronicle, Feb 9, 1939.
  14. ^ "Gin Marriage Laws Decrease Weddings". Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Mar 30, 1933.