FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ?June 2, 2011?

Contact: Debbie Read, (314) 652-3114; debbie@aclu-mo.org

ACLU FILES LAWSUIT TO ALLOW WOMAN RIGHT TO MARRY MAN OF HER CHOICE

ST. LOUIS — The ACLU of Eastern Missouri filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Kayla M. Page charging Howard County, Missouri and Sheriff Charles Polson for interfering with Page’s right to marry an inmate currently incarcerated at the Howard County jail.

According to the lawsuit, “Page alleges Defendants have adopted and are enforcing policies that infringe upon the fundamental right to marry, in violation of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” Polson has repeatedly told Page, her fiancé and others that he will not allow the couple to be married “in his jail.”

On February 15, 2011, Page and Charles M. O’Neal, an inmate at the Howard County jail, decided to get married. When Page requested permission from Sheriff Polson to marry O’Neal in a ceremony at the jail, Polson denied the request. In April, Page submitted a written request asking for Polson to reconsider, but he has not responded to the request.

“Our rights are being violated. It makes me really upset,” Page said. She says Polson “lectured” the couple and told them they could not get married in his jail.. According to Page, Polson also made crude comments about her relationship with O’Neal.

“Marriage is a fundamental right and the government should not interfere in people’s marital choices,” said Tony Rothert, ACLU of Eastern Missouri Legal Director, who is representing Page. Polson is being “excessively paternalistic for no legitimate reason. That’s not his job. His job is to follow the Constitution,” Rothert said.

“Preventing someone from getting married because her fiancé is in jail is unlawful and a violation of basic human rights,” said Brenda Jones, executive director of ACLU-EM. “This policy is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Stay informed

ACLU of Missouri is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National