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Taliaferro Bill to Expedite Marriage Applications When One Partner is Terminally Ill Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation Named “Linnette Lebron’s Law” in Honor of Camden Woman Who Married FiancÉ One Day Before Passing,

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro to reduce the waiting period and requirements for couples wishing to enter into a marriage or civil union when one is terminally ill cleared an Assembly panel on Thursday.

The bill (A-3250) is known as “Linnette Lebron’s Law” in honor of a young woman from Camden whose story inspired the legislation. While battling stage four stomach cancer, Linnette and her fiancÉ Omar Estevez decided to wait on marriage while they focused on her treatment. However, when she was given only days to live, Estevez left her bedside and wasted precious moments traveling between city hall, the hospital, and the courts to seek a waiver to the three-day waiting period for marriage licenses required by law. The couple, with some help from legislators, was finally able to secure a license and marry one day prior to Linette’s passing.

“There are many couples like Linnette and Omar throughout New Jersey who have been forced to jump through hoops during one of the most trying times in their life to fulfill their wish to be married,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “We need to change the process so that whatever time they have left can be spent together, not battling unnecessary hurdles.”
In doing so, the bill would eliminate or reduce the administrative duties and waiting period before the marriage or civil union can be performed when time may be of the essence.

Currently, anyone planning on getting married or entering into a civil union in New Jersey must first obtain a license from a licensing officer and deliver it to the person who is to officiate. There is also a mandatory 72 hour waiting period from the time the application is made until the issuance of the license, unless all or part of that time has been waived by order of the Superior Court. Additionally, the licensing authority also has the option to require in-person testimony under oath concerning the legality of the proposed marriage or civil union.

Under the bill, the mandatory waiting period would be waived for unions involving a terminally ill patient who is hospitalized and whose illness is certified to the licensing officer by the treating physician. The bill defines “terminally ill” to mean an illness or sickness that can reasonably be expected to result in death in 12 months or less.

In addition, the bill would allow a terminally ill patient to obtain a marriage or civil union license via: (1) the appearance of an attorney-in-fact by one or both parties; or (2) telephonic communication, under oath and verified by a witness of legal age, with the licensing officer.

The bill approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.