Missouri County Recorders of Deeds Must Issue Marriage Licenses to Those Unable to Appear in Person
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ST. LOUIS – Today United States District Judge Brian C. Wimes ordered that any person 18 years of age or older, who is unable to physically travel to a Missouri Recorder of Deeds office because of military service, disability or imprisonment can now obtain a marriage license. This action removes an artificial barrier in a Missouri statute that required both parties appear before a recorder of deeds to obtain a marriage license.
After several couples were unable to obtain marriage licenses because one partner could not appear in person, the ACLU sued four individual recorders and won. But, recorders in Missouri’s other counties still would not issue marriage licenses, so when Heidi Kennard was denied a license in Callaway County because her fiancé was incarcerated, the ACLU of Missouri decided to file a class action lawsuit against all Missouri recorders of deeds to protect the right to marry for everyone who cannot appear before a recorder in person.
“This judgment settles the matter once and for all,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “It removes an arbitrary governmental intrusion, which prevented couples from publicly expressing their commitment to each other through marriage.”
“It’s the ACLU’s job to remove artificial governmental barriers that prevent couples from the freedom to marry,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Today’s decision preserves the fundamental right to marriage in all the counties, and brings statewide effect to our earlier victories.”
The order can be found on the ACLU of Missouri website.
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