A bill to bring the age of marriage in Kentucky up to 18 has been stalled in a Senate committee, with concerns over parents’ rights to allow their children to marry young.
At the moment, Kentucky teenagers beneath the age of 18 may marry at 16 or 17 as long as they are able to obtain their parent’s consent.
Controversially, even teenagers below the age of 16 may get married with the permission of a judge in circumstances where a pregnancy is involved.
However, those fighting for this bill – Senate Bill 48 – argue how if a girl this young is pregnant, this is evidence of a sex crime as her age prevents her from consenting to having sexual relations.
The more you understand brain development in children and teens, the more unacceptable child marriage becomes—even if you somehow can disregard issues of autonomy, ethics and morality. https://t.co/icwXpPya3W
— Mark Del Monte (@DCDelMonte) March 3, 2018
Under this now stalled bill, 17-year-olds would be able to get married if district judge permits it, and only then if the age difference between the couple is less than four years.
In circumstances where a minor intends to marry an adult, the judge must examine relevant material including potential child abuse records, sex-offender records and domestic violence records.
This bill also asserts how the judge must look at the maturity and independence of the teen; looking at factors such as the teen’s educational attainment which could have a long term impact on their life.
The judge would prevent marriages under circumstances where the adult has an authoritative position over the minor, or when the adult has committed child abuse or sexual offences.
only in Kentucky would clerk Kim Davis refuse a marriage license to loving adult men – but be ok giving one to a child bride being pimped out by her parents – in the name of Jesus. pic.twitter.com/TKKOni4O7S
— 65,844,954 patriots (@overfield_jay) March 3, 2018
I can't believe Kentucky hasn't raised the marriage age to 18. This is the 21st century, not the feudal age! Child marriage is an antiquated policy with devastating consequences. It must be outlawed ASAP – kids deserve to grow and study, not marry and raise a family!
— Sukrit Ganesh (@SukritGanesh) March 3, 2018
Senate Bill 48 was removed from the agenda mere hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee were due to cast a vote.
Louisville Republican Julie Raque Adams tweeted:
SO disappointed! My SB 48 (outlaw child marriage) won’t be called for a vote. It is disgusting that lobbying organizations would embrace kids marrying adults.
We see evidence of parents who are addicted, abusive, neglectful pushing their children into predatory arms. Appalling.
According to USA Today, executive director for the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Eileen Recktenwald said:
This is legalized rape of children,
We cannot allow that to continue in Kentucky, and I cannot believe we are even debating this is the year 2018 in the United States.
SO disappointed! My SB 48 (outlaw child marriage) won’t be called for a vote. It is disgusting that lobbying organizations would embrace kids marrying adults. We see evidence of parents who are addicted, abusive, neglectful pushing their children into predatory arms. Appalling.
— Julie Raque Adams (@jrajra) March 1, 2018
It is genuinely appalling how in a supposedly developed country, people are still fighting for young people to enjoy their youth without entering marriage before they are ready.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.