Missouri County Recorders of Deeds Must Issue Marriage Licenses to Those Unable to Appear in Person

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
February 26, 2015 2:29 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Missouri
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

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.

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Criminal Law Reform

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Criminal Law Reform

Criminal Law Reform issue image

The Criminal Law Reform Project seeks to end harsh policies and racial inequities in the criminal justice system.