Child marriage bill passes New Hampshire House after remarks

Child marriage bill passes New Hampshire House after controversial remarks

  • Published on
    May 6, 2024
  • Category:
    Forced Marriage, Law & Policy
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In a heated debate within the New Hampshire House of Representatives, a proposed bill to set the state’s minimum marriage age at 18 has sparked controversy and drawn national attention, as reported by MassLive. A vote of 192-174 has since passed the bill and is now awaiting action from the governor in the next weeks.

Controversial opposition

During the debate, Republican state Rep. Jess Edwards articulated a controversial stance against the bill, suggesting that by restricting marriage at a younger age, the state could inadvertently encourage abortions among teenagers facing pregnancy. Edwards described these teenagers as being at a “ripe, fertile” age. His comments drew shock for their phrasing and underlying implications, and he has since commented on the criticism.

Implications of the new legislation

The bill itself seeks to solidify 18 as the minimum age for marriage without exception, aiming to repeal older statutes that provide legal avenues for minors to marry with parental or judicial consent. Advocates for the bill argue that raising the marriage age to 18 aligns with the standards for other adult responsibilities and rights, ensuring that all parties entering into a marriage are doing so with full legal capacity to consent.

Raising the minimum legal age for marriage to 18 is a vital measure to protect young individuals from exploitation and forced marriages, which often result in adverse lifelong outcomes. Child marriages are commonly linked to increased rates of domestic violence, poverty, and health complications. Setting the marriage age at 18 ensures that both parties have all the legal means to make such a profound life decision and are less susceptible to coercion, as argued by Rep. Cassandra Levesque, who has been pressuring the New Hampshire government to prohibit child marriages since 2018.

“The committee found that this bill is important to be in law because we know that age of majority does not amount to maturity, and that there is a greater risk of human trafficking and domestic violence without these protections.” – Rep. Cassandra Levesqu

Prevent forced child marriages by outlawing child marriage

Outlawing child marriage is an effective step in preventing forced child marriage, which is why we are calling on U.S. lawmakers to pass laws that will prohibit child marriages in all states. Join us today by signing our petition!

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John Blocher
John Blocher
16 days ago

When the governor of New Hampshire signs this bill into law, we will be at 1/4 of the states having “Age 18 – No Exceptions” as state law. This is consistent progress yet the Federal Government for a Fiancé Visa filing still does not require both parties of the marriage to be age 18, even though the act of moving someone from anther country to here is so much larger than merely giving them a marriage license. For a Fiancé Visa, both should also be “Age 18 – No Exceptions.”

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