D.C. Council Weighs Lifting Marriage Tests for Syphilis, Idiocy

The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would end the requirement that couples undergo blood tests for syphilis before getting a marriage license.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Councilman Phil Mendelson, says his panel's research showed that premarital medical examinations have no significant value.

Language ending the blood test requirement is part of a larger bill repealing long-standing prohibitions on marriage. For more than 100 years, District law has barred "lunatics" and "idiots" from getting married. Council members say the laws are antiquated.

Some council members, however, favored expanding the blood test requirement to include HIV testing. Councilwoman Yvette Alexander says a person should know what they may be exposed to.