American Taliban: Led by conservative Christians, Republican lawmakers in Idaho vote down legislation that would have ended child marriage in the state.
Earlier this week, Idaho legislators voted down a bill that would have blocked marriage for children under the age of 16.
The bill, proposed by Democratic Representative Melissa Wintrow, aimed to prevent children under 16 from getting married and would require consent of the child, parents and a court before a marriage. Current state law allows children younger than 16-years-old to get married with parental and judicial consent, and teens who are 16 and older to get married with only parental consent.
The GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted against the legislation in a 39-28 vote on Thursday.
The Hill notes:
Opponents to the bill argued that it would result in too much government and judicial oversight. Some also cited the state’s abortion laws, which allow a girl under the age of 18 to get an abortion with the consent of one parent or a judge.
Speaking on the House floor against the bill, State Rep. Christy Zito, a Republican, said:
If we pass this legislation, it will then become easier in the state of Idaho to obtain an abortion at 15 years old than it will to decide to form a family and create a family for a child that has been conceived.
While Republican Rep. Bryan Zollinger said:
I do not think courts should be involved in marriage at all. I don’t believe there should be a license required to get married. I think two willing people should be able to go and get married.
Supporters of the common-sense legislation were disappointed by the defeat. For example, State Rep. Melissa Wintrow wrote on Facebook:
And State Rep. Rob Mason opined:
Today was a sad day in the Idaho House. What I thought was a modest compromise to try to prevent coercion and potential abuse of children, by raising the floor on the marriage age to 16 – let me repeat, 16 – turned out to be too progressive for too many of my republican colleagues. Arguments against: parental rights and a disagreement with aligning marriage laws with the statutory rape laws. I’m at a loss.
This afternoon’s House session was shameful. We had the opportunity to end child marriage under the age of 16 thanks to Rep. Melissa Wintrow’s incredible hard work on this bill, and our legislators voted it down. I’m proud to stand with 27 other legislators who voted to pass this bill to end child marriage under 16. It is heartbreaking to see this bill go down to defeat. It’s our children we’re talking about! Rest assured, we will keep working to do all we can to pass policies that protect Idaho’s children.
From 2000 to 2010, 4,080 children in Idaho were married, according to data compiled from 38 states by Unchained at Last, a national advocacy group working to end forced and child marriages in America. The youngest minor wed in Idaho was 13.
Think about that – in the 21st century, a 13-year-old child was married in the state of Idaho. Not Pakistan. Idaho. Can you say “American Taliban”?
Bottom line: Led by conservative Christians, Republican lawmakers in Idaho voted down legislation that would have ended child marriage in the state.