In Idaho, Republican Lawmakers Block Bill Banning Child Marriage

Screengrab / The Young Turks / Youtube

Republican legislators in Idaho shot down a bill that would have made it illegal for children to marry before age 16.

The bill was proposed by Democrat Melissa Wintrow, and aimed to prevent children younger than 16 from getting married, reports Newsweek. Under the bill, a marriage would require consent of the child, parents, and a court.

Current Idaho state law allows children under 16 to get married with permission from the parents and court. Children older than 16 can get married with only parental permission.

On Thursday, Republican-controlled Idaho House of Representatives blocked the bill with a 39-28 vote.

As Republican Bryan Zollinger said, "I do not think courts should be involved in marriage at all. I don’t believe there should be a license required to get married. I think two willing people should be able to go and get married."

Republican Christy Zito brought up the topic of abortion, saying that "It will then become easier in the state of Idaho to obtain an abortion at 15-and-a-half years old than it will to decide to form a family.”

Abortion is legal in Idaho for children under age 18, with parental and judicial consent.

Wintrow lamented the bill’s failure to pass on Facebook, where she wrote, “Today was a sad day in the Idaho House. What I thought was a modest compromise to try to prevent coercion and potential abuse of children, by raising the floor on the marriage age to 16 - let me repeat, 16 - turned out to be too progressive for too many of my republican colleagues. Arguments against: parental rights and a disagreement with aligning marriage laws with the statutory rape laws. I’m at a loss."

Marriage for children under 18 became illegal across the entire U.S. last year, when New Jersey and Delaware banned it.

Child marriage tracking organization Girls Not Brides estimates that 12 million girls younger than 18 are married each year.

Read the full story here.

Comments (1)
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j.ann
j.ann

I'm afraid you have made an important factual error in this disturbing story. You state that " Marriage for children under 18 became illegal across the entire U.S. last year, when New Jersey and Delaware banned it."

The reference in the Newsweek article upon which this piece is based stated that until last year, child marriage was legal IN EVERY STATE. After NJ & Delaware banned it, it was STILL LEGAL in 48 states.

I'm sure you will remedy this as soon as possible. It is a national scandal that girls are not protected under our laws from whatever depraved arrangements their parents might make.

Thank you, Julie Katz