Texas House Member John Turner (D-Dallas) is behind legislation that expedites the process of obtaining a death certificate “in cases when it’s requested for a religious reason. The Dallas Morning News noted on Monday that “a common requirement to transport a body abroad is a death certificate, but in Texas, it can take several days, sometimes even a couple of weeks, for a family to get the document.”
This bill would expedite the process of obtaining a death certificate in certain cases when it’s requested for a religious reason. I hope we can pass the bill and assist people in observing the teachings of their faith. 2/2
— John Turner (@TurnerForTX) March 19, 2021
Under Turner’s law, a family can request an expedited death certificate for religious reasons when it plans to bury the deceased in another country. In that case, the death certificate must be issued within 48 hours, unless there is an investigation regarding the death.
On Tuesday, Dallas County commissioners adopted a resolution to participate in the expedited processing.
A Monday DMN op-ed stated (Texas Jewish families faced agonizing waits to bury loved ones. This law will change that.): “We’re proud of a particular instance that started in Dallas. Members of the Orthodox Jewish community in our city had experienced harrowing waits to get death certificates for loved ones whom they intended to bury abroad. Their religious tradition prohibits embalming the dead and requires a prompt burial — customs shared by Islam and other faiths. Some faithful choose other countries as their final resting place.”
Turner worked on the legislation with Republican staffer Aaron Ceder, whose friend, Howard Goldfeder, wanted to bury his mother in Jerusalem, but since she died on the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018, he could not fly the body to Jerusalem without a Texas death certificate. It didn’t help that after MLK Monday, Texas state offices were closed on Tuesday because of bad weather.
“I told myself that this should not happen again and that a family should not have to go through this agonizing wait,” Goldfeder told Texas told lawmakers.
The DMN noted that Turner worked on his legislation with medical examiners in two Texas counties. The op-ed concluded: “This is the way government is supposed to work. Constituents identify a problem and bring it to the attention of their representatives, who work with other parties to find a solution and build consensus around it. This law may affect only a small number of people, but it should remind all Texans of the politics we should strive for.”