Harlan Still & Koch

Missouri official ordered to deliver marriage doc to disabled man

Missouri residents without mobility issues may not have given much thought to state law regarding the marriage process. But until recently, a disabled man was unable to marry his fiancée, because he could not comply with a seemingly discriminatory requirement that many of us might take for granted.

State law requires that would-be spouses appear in person before a Recorder of Deeds to pick up their marriage license. The man, a Mountain View resident, was unable to reach his county’s Recorder of Deeds because of an unspecified disability. Without knowing more, there is a good chance that his disability makes it so that he cannot work.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri took on the man’s case. The ACLU had previously successfully persuaded the court to create an exception to the in-person application requirement for incarcerated people. In this case, the organization said that not accommodating people whose disabilities make showing up to the office in person impossible was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ACLU and the man brought their case to federal court, and on May 12, a United States District Court judge ruled in their favor. The judge ordered the county Recorder of Deeds to go to the man’s home and issue him a marriage license. This may create a precedent that would make it much easier for many disabled Missourians to get married.

People with disabilities, including those whose careers have been interrupted, should not be prevented from enjoying the milestones of life, such as marriage.

Source: ACLU.org, “Missouri Man with Disability Can Now Obtain a Marriage License,” May 12, 2014

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