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After New Hampshire, Missouri wants to ban child marriage. But there is resistance

Missouri child marriage bill

Missouri’s child marriage law faces opposition

Photo: AP

Quickly after New Hampshire passed the bill to ban child marriage, raising the minimum age to 18 years, Missouri lawmakers have put similar legislation up for a vote. Republicans in the Show Me State, however, oppose it. According to the Kansas City Star, the bill, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder and Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur, may not pass the House due to opposition.

The bill prohibits the issuance of marriage licenses to persons under the age of 18 in the state. Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds can obtain a marriage license with parental consent. However, marriages between minors and adults aged 21 and over are prohibited.

What do opposing Republicans say?

Missouri lawmakers who opposed the bill said there are several examples of people who got married as teenagers and are still together — “madly in love.” They added that the new bill would be “effectively bad for families in which spouses married young.”

Rep. Dean VanSchoiak (R), the vice chairman of the Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee, said: “Why does government become involved in people’s lives in this way? What purpose do we serve when we decide that a couple who are 16 or 17 years old tell their parents, you know, ‘you love each other, go ahead and get married, you have my permission.’ Why should we stop doing that?”

Earlier this week, The Star reported that the child marriage bill might not even get out of committee. At least seven of the fourteen members are against. The current session of the Missouri Legislature adjourns on May 17, giving the bill about a week to get out of committee and pass both chambers. It then ends up on the governor’s desk.