While some women aspire to marriage, Hilda refused to submit to it.

An immigrant from Europe, she met and fell in love with Walter, with whom she set up housekeeping. As for church bells, she thought they were much ado about "I do," and refused to stroll down the aisle with her love.

The result?

When Hilda applied for United States citizenship, she was turned down.

"You've lived with a man whom you are not married," she was told by an immigration authority official and, he concluded, "that makes you immoral and not fit to be a citizen."

"That's hogwash!," responded Hilda. "For all intents and purposes, we are married. I just don't need a preacher to confirm that fact. That truth is ... I just don't believe in marriage. All it does is make two people one and the way things work today, Walter would be the 'one.'"

Intent upon maintaining her independence, Hilda took the denial of her citizenship to court.

If you were the judge ...

Would you grant Hilda United States citizenship?

This is how the judge ruled ...


The judge ruled that as far as the immigration law was concerned, a women does not lack "good moral character" because she lives with a man as husband and wife on the grounds of a conscientious objection to a marriage ceremony.

While common law marriages are not recognized in this state, noted the judge, Hilda would be deemed married in those states that still do recognize common law marriages.

Based upon a 1970 United State District Court Decision.

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