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Quijano, Coughlin, Reynolds-Jackson & Johnson Bill to Expedite Marriage Licenses During Public Health Emergency Clears Assembly Committee

Taking into account these unprecedented times may cause a further burden on residents who intend to recite their vows with their significant other, an Assembly panel advanced legislation allowing for an expedited process of marriage licenses.

The bill (A-3964) is sponsored by Assembly members Annette Quijano (D-Union), Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), Verlina Reynolds Jackson (D-Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen).

During the period of the public health emergency and state of emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020, the legislation would permit parties intending to be married to mail or hand-delivering a completed application for a marriage or civil union license to the appropriate licensing officer.

The sponsors issued the following statement on the legislation:

“Under the current restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many normal aspects of our lives have been put on hold including wedding nuptials. This legislation will help residents to proceed with their plans and build their families even now. With existing technology, we can find ways to expedite marriage licenses while still adhering to social distancing protocols. This is important to encouraging a sense a normalcy for residents.”

Currently to apply for a marriage or civil union in New Jersey you must appear in person before in a Local Registrar’s office. Additionally, there is a 72-hour waiting period before the license is issued. The waiting period begins when the application is filed with the Local Registrar.

The measure permits a licensing officer to issue marriage or civil union licenses to contracting parties upon the completion of electronic or audio-visual means, during which the parties shall subscribe and swear to an oath attesting the truth of the facts respecting the legality of the proposed marriage or civil union as set forth in the form supplied by the State Registrar.  The parties’ testimony shall be verified by a witness of legal age who is in the presence of the contracting parties.

This bill allows for parties to file their application for marriage or civil union license through the mail, fax or otherwise transmitting the application. The measure also waives the waiting period.

Under the bill, the licensing officer shall issue the license only if it is made to appear that no legal impediment to the marriage or civil union exists, and every licensing officer would be permitted to administer oaths to the contracting parties.  Any witness or applicant applying for a marriage or civil union license who shall knowingly make false answers to any of the inquiries from the licensing officer shall be guilty of perjury.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.