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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, M.D. (D-Burlington/Camden) that would make it possible for military men and women serving overseas to marry their significant other back home was approved Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-4170) would authorize marriage and civil union by proxy for men and women in the military whose service in a war or conflict prevents them from appearing in person to obtain the marriage or civil union license and participate in the actual wedding ceremony.

“For service men and women, the call to serve can come at any moment. Putting civilian life on hold is part of the course for deployed soldiers, but not being able to get married because the law requires them to be in the states, is wrong,” said Conaway. “This measure will allow soldiers serving overseas to exchange ‘I do’s’, even when they are thousands of miles away.”

Under the bill, a member of the Armed Forces or National Guard who is stationed overseas and serving in a conflict or a war and is unable to appear for the licensure and solemnization of his or her marriage or civil union may enter into that marriage or civil union by the appearance of an attorney-in-fact, commissioned and empowered in writing for that purpose through a power of attorney.

The attorney-in-fact must personally appear before the licensing officer with the person who is not serving overseas, and present the original power of attorney signed by the party stationed overseas and acknowledged by a notary or witnessed by two officers of the Armed Forces or the National Guard.

The power of attorney would state that its purpose is solely to authorize the attorney-in-fact to obtain a marriage or civil union license on the person’s behalf, and to participate in the solemnization of the marriage or civil union. The original power of attorney would be a part of the marriage or civil union certificate upon registration.

“Military life is filled with sacrifices for those who serve. Their commitment to our county is commendable; it should not keep them from fulfilling a marriage proposal,” said Conaway. “The hope is that every soldier deployed returns home safely. But if a soldier wants to get married while stationed overseas, then he or she should have the option to do so.”

The bill was released 5-0 by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.