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Judge overturns law that made it difficult for inmates to marry

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri statute requiring both parties to sign a marriage license in the presence of a county recorder of deeds has been deemed unconstitutional when the prospective bride or groom is incarcerated.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. in Kansas City, Mo., issued the ruling Thursday in a lawsuit brought by five women engaged to Missouri inmates.

Because betrothed inmates can't make it to the recorder's office, marriage license applications involving inmates typically are brought into a prison. The lawsuit claimed that Cole County's recorder had been allowed inside prisons for 17 years, but was denied entry in August and unable to bring marriage licenses to several prisoners. The reason: He declined to list his Social Security number on a form.

The weddings scheduled for Sept. 24 were called off.

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