Children of any age can legally marry in the state of Louisiana, and some conservative lawmakers appear determined to keep that reality from changing, according to HuffPost.
Though minors who are 16 or 17 must obtain parental consent to marry and those under 16 require a judge’s approval, some lawmakers believe more stringent rules should be in place to protect children from abuse.
Democratic state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb authored a bill that would “make 16 the minimum legal age of marriage; it also barred 16- and 17-year-olds from marrying anyone more than four years older than them,” HuffPost reported.
More than 80 percent of the 4,300 minors married in Louisiana from 2000-2010 were young girls marrying older men, The Advocate reported.
Nevertheless, when the bill hit the House, conservative lawmakers dug in.
The crux of the argument appeared to be reducing abortions and ensuring that babies born to teenagers are raised by married parents.
Republican state Rep. Nancy Landry reportedly said, “We want children to be born into wedlock if possible. We’re discouraging that with this. If they’re both 16 or 15 and having a baby why wouldn’t we want them to get married?”
After a majority of lawmakers initially agreed on setting the minimum marrying age to 17, House Republicans rewrote the bill to essentially keep the same system: allowing those under 18 to marry with their parents’ permission and those under 16 with a blessing from a judge.
HuffPost gathered comments from some of the Republicans in favor of allowing children to marry, as reported by The Advocate’s Sam Karlin:
After the extensively rewritten bill passed the House 67-28, it now heads back to the Senate.