- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Recent legal wrangling prompted Missouri lawmakers to pass a measure clearing the way for inmates to get married without having to personally see the county official responsible for issuing marriage licenses.

State law requires couples to sign an application for a marriage license in the presence of the county recorder of deeds or an appointed deputy. The requirement to sign in-person has prompted lawsuits, and during their annual session that ended in May, lawmakers endorsed a bill that would allow some people to submit affidavits instead of signing before the county recorder.

Legal controversy has arisen in areas where the recorder of deeds in a county housing a state prison has declined to go to the facilities to witness marriage license applications from inmates living there.

“It wasn’t a real complicated one, but it was one of them that needed to be done,” said sponsoring Sen. Mike Parson, a Republican from Bolivar.

The legislation heading to Gov. Jay Nixon would apply to inmates and members of the military who are deployed outside Missouri. It would allow an affidavit or sworn statement instead of signing the marriage license application in front of the county official. It would require people who are unable to sign in-person to attest that they could not do so because they are incarcerated or have been called to active military duty, which would be verified by a jail or prison administrator or military officer.

Tony Rothert, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, said judges have sided with people seeking to marry in a few cases and that another is pending.

Five women engaged to Missouri inmates filed a lawsuit after the recorder of deeds in Cole County was denied entry to the Jefferson City Correctional Center to bring marriage licenses after declining to provide his Social Security number to prison officials. The recorder also declined to provide his driver’s license number, according to court records. The county official had been allowed entry for nearly two decades by showing his driver’s license.


Marriage licenses is SB796


Legislature: https://www.moga.mo.gov

Nixon: https://www.gov.mo.gov

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