Family Issues

Toddlers Are Not Not Allowed to Marry

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An extraneous not in a 2007 law briefly allowed children of any age to marry in Arkansas, as long as they had parental permission. The botched passage read:

In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage.

In a special session last week, the state legislature re-established the old minimum ages for marriage with parental permission: 16 for girls and 17 for boys. Evidently legislators abandoned the attempt to carve out an exception for girls younger than 16 who are pregnant, perhaps fearing that the mysterious marriage not would slip back in. 

Here's a rundown of legal marriage ages in various states. Until a couple years ago, when lawmakers established a minimum marriage age of 15, Kansas was among the loosest, allowing girls as young as 12 to marry with parental permission. Neighboring Nebraska had a minimum age of 17, the sort of discrepancy that can cause tabloid headlines.

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  1. Mass 14 boys and 12 for girls with Consent?

    New Hampshire 14 boys and 13 girls?

    What’s with the age discrepancies? Why is the age of consent with permission different for boys and girls?

    Puerto Rico — 21 w/o a parents permission? That’s odd

  2. So…. ?

  3. In Common Law Marriage states, would a step-brother and sister who lived together for the required time to the legal age be married?

  4. In Alabama, most male farmers’ first “wife” is a mule.

  5. Why aren’t these age discrepancies unconstitutional? Seems to me they don’t have a “fair and substantial” relationship to a legitimate/substantial state interest. The only thing I can think of just now is what Rehnquist advanced in Michael M., but his concerns seemed to be pretty specific – “illegitimate” pregnancies presumably would be legitimate if the parents were married, and the concern that equal treatment would discourage females from reporting rape doesn’t apply at all. What else is there?

  6. Epi,

    They would have to be having sexual relations and “have established a household.”

    Of course, here in Kentucky that just means he fingerbanged her at least twice and they can sleep in the tool shed so’s long as nobody notices.

  7. Epi,

    The standard Colorado courts have outlined is that a common law marriage in Colorado requires that the couple:

    1. Cohabitate,

    2. Mutually agree to be married, and

    3. Openly hold themselves out to the public as married.

  8. swg: Why aren’t these age discrepancies unconstitutional?

    The equal rights amendment failed.

  9. Peurto Rico is the only “state” that’s doing it right. Marriage is kind of like drugs — just say “no”.

  10. Why aren’t these age discrepancies unconstitutional? Seems to me they don’t have a “fair and substantial” relationship to a legitimate/substantial state interest.

    Girls are physically ready earlier. From the Americn Academy of Pediatrics

    Puberty is the time in your life when your body starts changing from that of a child to that of an adult. While there’s no “right” time for puberty to begin, girls usually start a little earlier than boys-usually between 8 and 13 years of age. Puberty for boys usually starts at about 10 to 14 years of age.

  11. I believe Arkansas officials were alerted to the discrepancy in the law after a Little Rock man named Mohammed married his six year old bride, Aisha.

  12. Seems to me they don’t have a “fair and substantial” relationship to a legitimate/substantial state interest.

    Girls get pregnant. Guys don’t. More to the point, girls reach sexual maturity and childbearing age before guys do.

    As stupid, backward, and moralistic as it is, the concern against “bastard” children drives a lot of the discrepancy, ensuring that girls of childbearing age can get married to “protect their and their children’s honor” or some such shit.

  13. Damn you, LarryA, fast typer that you are. 🙂

  14. “Marriage is kind of like drugs — just say “no”.”

    New World Dan has it right. And to think in this day and age we still have anti-gay bigots pushing for homosexual marriage. Disgusting.

  15. Why do the rules differer between the genders…

    Why not the same age for both guys and girls?! Gender discrimination!

  16. bigbigslacker,

    You’ve got me all wrong. I’m for the homos getting married. That’ll stop ’em from having sex. Worked for me!

  17. Scott: Why do the rules differer between the genders…

    Why not the same age for both guys and girls?! Gender discrimination!

    The Equal Rights Amendment failed. Different rules between the sexes is OK.

    Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

  18. Deliberations of the secret planners making secret plans:

    Yeah, guys, even if we ignore those terrorists and let them hijack planes and fly them into the twin towers it won’t be a spectacular enough tragedy to inflame the people. Get SpecOps to put some charges in the basement to make sure the motherfucker’s blowed up real good.

    Wait, that won’t be good enough. Put some charges in Building 7 too. Bringing down two one-hundred-and-one story office towers and killing thousands of people just aint good enough. But that little 47 story jobber ‘ll do the trick. Yessirree. We got us a plan.

    Just wanted to see if that looked as stupid typed out as it sounded in my head.

    It does.

  19. oops, wrong thread.

    Me no good make plans. Good thing me no on 9/11 conspiracy team.

  20. Isn’t toddler marriage cosmopolitan?

  21. Old enough to chew, old enough to screw.

  22. Years ago I read a biography of Ty Cobb, the biggest asshole enshrined at Cooperstown. His mother, age 12, married his father when he was in his thirties.

    So, there has been some improvement over the years.

  23. In Common Law Marriage states, would a step-brother and sister who lived together for the required time to the legal age be married?

    Common law marriage doesn’t say who can be married, only how a marriage can be created.

    If a step-brother can’t marry his step-sister by getting a marriage license, he can’t marry her by common law.

  24. One of the great problems in our society is that people do not grow up fast enough.

    We should all teach people to be mature so that they can be ready for adult responsibilities when they are able to become pregnant or get someone else pregnant.

  25. Q: What do you get when you cut a toddler with a strait razor?

    A: An erection.

  26. Won’t someone please think of the prostitots?

  27. Government shouldn’t be legislating anything in regards to marriage. It is none of their business. If people wish to arrange marriages for their kids so be it. That is their business. If people wish to marry someone of the same sex or a goat that is their business. Government has no role in marriage. It is between the parties involved and their church or god or non-deity of their choosing.

  28. J sub D

    Didn’t his father also shoot his mother in a fit of jealous rage? Or am I thinking of some other asshole Hall-of-Famer?

    Anyway, I think jealous husbands shooting pretty young wives is a good argument against letting twelve-year-old girls get married. If you can actually prove some kind of cause and affect that is.

    Ty Cobb might have been King of the assholes, but he sure could play ball.

    Wait a minute, this isn’t a baseball thread is it? Sorry.

  29. The Equal Rights Amendment failed. Different rules between the sexes is OK.

    Not true. The Equal Protection Clause says that everyone is entitled to equal protection of the laws. It doesn’t say “unless you are a chick.” Quite the contrary; a law that discriminates against women is subject to intermediate scrutiny (the law is unconstitutional unless it is “substantially related” to an “important” government interest). That’s a better deal than most people get.

  30. His mother shot his father as he was climbing in through a window while he was supposed to be out of town. One theory is that he suspected her of adultery and was trying to catch her in the act. She was tried and acquitted for his murder. That climbing in through the window thing probably swayed the jury that she had good reason to shoot him.*

    *This just made me think that I hope Ryan Frederick gets a like minded jury.

  31. Oh, that’s right. Thanks, J sub D.

    Bet the Tigers wouldn’t mind a slugger like the Georgia Peach these days. Though they’d probably like it if some of his, let us say, more obnoxious personal traits were missing.

  32. What difference does it make that women enter puberty earlier? I thought the issue in parental consent laws, like the statutory rape laws, was that “children” under the age of consent were not emotionally mature to decide for themselves whether to marry, have sex, etc. What evidence is there that girls reach emotional maturity faster?

  33. Age of consent is an example of why the law leads to wrong results in some cases when it must use a bright-line rule instead of a standard. Here’s a standard: a person can consent when he/she is both mentally and physically well-developed enough to consent. The standard recognizes that different people mature at different speeds. But the standard would be difficult to enforce and may not provide enough certainty that one is not breaking the law, i.e. it might be too vague for due process. Hence, the bright-line rule, if she’s under 16, you’re a sex offender. It’s the same for voting, drinking, etc. Don’t we all know some 17-year olds who are way better qualified to vote than some 35-year olds?

  34. Kaganspawn-The way to go about this is to have both. Have a bright line rule, but allow the ability for a minor to petition the court for full emancipation (in all legal respects) if they can prove to a judge they are emotionally and mentally mature enough to do so. Obviously, that would be rarely given, even if guidelines were loosen, but it would eliminate certain borderline cases, especially if this could be determined after the fact (that is, if somebody was convicted of statutory rape could provide a defense that their victim was emotionally mature enough to be classified as an adult).

  35. It’s weird that there’s an article about this without mentioning the recent raid on the FLDS church/compound.

  36. Government shouldn’t be legislating anything in regards to marriage. It is none of their business.

    So far, so good. But then……..

    If people wish to arrange marriages for their kids so be it. That is their business.

    Well, merely arranging is one thing. Using some form of coersion to get the kid to accept the arrangement (not exactly uncommon when there is an arranged marrige) is something else. And that ought not be allowed. I also think there are certain psychological pressure tactics, which parents sometimes use in such situations, that shouldn’t be allowed (The polygamist compound bust in Texas comes to mind).

    If people wish to marry someone of the same sex or a goat that is their business.

    I agree about the same sex thing. But should the government write social security checks to some dead guy’s goat-spouse? Or grant the goat custody of the dead guy’s kids? Or let someone file a joint tax return with a goat (who presumably has no income) as a spouse? Or extend any other of these legal niceties to goats or other animals? I’m inclined to say “no”.

    Government has no role in marriage. It is between the parties involved and their church or god or non-deity of their choosing.

    Sounds good, but again, see the nuances above.

  37. zoltan

    Well, I was a bit late. But, better late than never.

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