When Christie was 16, she ran away from home for good reason, but she wanted to get married. She thought that her aunt would liberate her (give her adulthood), and she could marry her boyfriend. What she did not count on was that the state gave her custody to the state. She still lived with her aunt, but the court imposed a rash of restrictions, which she resented. The young woman ran away again. She caused so much trouble that her aunt fell ill and decided if Christie wanted to get married, fine. At that point in time, no state would agree to such an early marriage. All that may be changing.
Had she lived in Louisiana, she could have married. The state’s legislators decided it would be advantageous for people to marry at any age in spite of child predators, for example. They refused to set a minimum age.
Senator Yvonne Dorsey (D) wrote a bill that would keep anyone under the age of 16 from marrying. Her language stated that anyone under 16-years-old could not marry, and anyone 16 or 17-year-old could marry as long their spouse was not over four years older.
The Louisiana House rewrote the Senate bill and required parental consent for any individual under the age of 18-year-old to get married. It required a judicial review before anyone under the age of 16 to marry.
That bill’s vote passed 66 to 28, according to NOLA.com. Several lawmakers asked for a strict minimum age. They said that minimum-age-protections would prevent young teens from marrying much-older sexual predators.
New Orleans Republican Representative Stephanie Hilferty was disturbed by the idea of a 15-year-old marrying. She commented that a minimum age was “desperately needed” in the case of “covering up acts of rape as a marriage.” In addition, science has shown that humans’ brains often do not mature until they are over 20-years-old.
Those who were again minimum ages said that those who married young tended to stay in strong partnerships. Plus, some lawmakers did not want to keep pregnant teens from getting married.
State Representative Nancy Landry (R) said:
‘If they’re both 16 years old, and they both consent to sexual relations, and they’re about to have a baby, why wouldn’t we want them to be married? Just as a public policy of the state we want children born into wedlock, if possible. It’s really disturbing to me, because a lot of 16-year-olds are very mature.’
Landry noted that there was the issues of marriage tax advantages. Other advantages were discussed:
‘(H)ealth care and paternity benefits that shouldn’t be dismissed. She said the House debated the bill in a way that made it sound as though every teenager who married was a sex trafficking victim.’
Louisiana law currently requires minors to get parental consent — and a judges’ consent under certain circumstances — if they want to get married.
Representative Hilferty’s wanted the minimum age to be set at 17. During discussions, the House stripped out the language that set the state’s minimum age at 17-years old. Beryl Amedee (R) asked that the House take out that language and rewrote it in Amedee’s language. The bill passed the House. Then, it was sent back to the Senate. Amedee continued:
‘Marriage is still a valid and valuable institution.’