The Republican Party is all about protecting the children, we’ve heard in recent years. The GOP wants to protect children from what they call ‘sexualization,’ such as the acknowledgment that a teenager can be LGBTQ, or even mentioning that a child may have same-sex parents.
What they won’t protect children against, though, is being married off before attaining adulthood.
The fight to defend child marriage has direct links to the ideology of denying women control of their own bodies.
Republicans argue that since a girl under the age of 16 can get pregnant, it’s necessary for her to have the option to marry — even though they’re against the right for her to choose a medical procedure to stop being pregnant, often even if it costs her life.
The current fight over child marriages is now the hottest in Wyoming, where legislation has been proposed to limit marriage to those aged 16 and above — and where Republicans are vehemently opposing it.
Currently, there’s no minimum age to marry in Wyoming, although those under 16 must have the approval and order of a judge to do so.
It’s one of the top ten states for child marriage, and legislators have a bill in the works that would change that, raising the absolute minimum marriage age to 16, and requiring a judge and parents to sign off on weddings before age 18.
However, Republicans in the state are passing around an email citing talking points from a conservative group that argues children must be able to marry if they are impregnated.
“The Wyoming Republican Party, however, is urging its constituents to oppose it not because the bill is too weak, but because it believed the bill stood to rob their constituents of constitutional rights…Among other points, [the Wyoming GOP] argued that preventing children under 16 years old from marrying “denies the fundamental purpose of marriage,” robbing teen parents from the ability to remain together under one roof for any children they might bear together…” Newsweek summarized the arguements.
The proposed legislation would only address a minority of marriages in the state — around 1 marriage in every 200 involves a party under the age of 18, the Caspar Star-Tribune reported in an analysis of the bill, before the Republican party lashed out to defend the right to court-order minors into marriage.
Further, that report laid out the need for protection for the youngest minors, pointing out that in Tennessee, another state with a similar lack of age requirement, an 11-year-old was able to enter into a marriage in 2006.
If the GOP has its way, there will be the opportunity for more young victims to be entered into marriages before they’re old enough to hold a driver’s license.
So much for a party that wants to protect children from grooming, sexualization, and abuse.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.