By Guy Page
Allowing teenagers ages 16-17 to marry with parental permission is a human rights abuse that destroys nearly every aspect of American girls’ lives and makes a mockery of marriage, say supporters of a bill limiting the right of marriage to people 18 and over.
Wednesday 9 AM, House Judiciary will discuss and possibly vote on H631, raising the eligibility to marry. It would prohibit teens 16 and over becoming married with a parent’s permission. Only Vermonters 18 and over would be allowed to marry. The committee meeting can be seen on YouTube.
Critics of the bill say teens may marry for good reasons, including to provide a stable home for a child, gain the rights of marriage when one spouse is being deployed by the military, and as a matter of personal choice. In support of the bill, sponsor Carol Ode (D-Burlington) cited information from a national organization, Unchained at Last:
- Minors can easily be forced into marriage or forced to stay in a marriage before they attain the rights of adulthood at age 18. They cannot easily leave home, enter a shelter, retain an attorney or independently bring a legal action.
- Child marriage, even at 16 or 17, is a recognized “human rights abuse.” It destroys nearly every aspect of American girls’ lives, including their health, education and economic opportunities and even their physical safety.
- Marriage before 18 has a 70 to 80 percent chance of ending in divorce. Child marriage makes a mockery of marriage.
UnChained at Last supporter Michelle Hanash testified last week that banning child marriage is a goal of the United Nations: “The U.S. and 192 other countries have promised to end child marriage by the year 2030 under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The world cannot keep this promise if states simply emancipate children before their marriage and then say it is no longer “child marriage.”