Tennessee Republicans Propose Bill Eliminating Age Requirements for Marriage!

Written by on April 6, 2022

Tennessee Republicans are pushing for a bill that would eliminate age requirements for marriage in the state.

The bill, HB 233, which was introduced by Republican state Rep. Tom Leatherwood, would create “an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage in our law,” he told WKRN. However, missing from the bill are age requirements, opening the door for possible child marriages; something Tom Leatherwood acknowledged during a Children and Family Affairs subcommittee. “There is not an explicit age limit,” he confirmed. To note, under the current Tennessee law, you can get married as young as 17 with parental consent.

Representative Mike Stewart (D-Nashville), who sits on the subcommittee, said he simply doesn’t understand the motivation behind it: “I don’t think any normal person thinks we shouldn’t have an age requirement for marriage.” He added it could open up the possibility to cover up child sex abuse. “It should not be there as it’s basically a get out of jail free card for people who are basically committing statutory rape… I mean it’s completely ridiculous, so that’s another reason why this terrible bill should be eliminated,” Steward said. The bill will be heard in the House Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday.

Hitting back, the Sexual Assault Center of Middle Tennessee also released the following statement to News 2: “The Sexual Assault Center does not believe the age of consent for marriage should be any younger than it already is. It makes children more vulnerable to coercion and manipulation from predators, sexual and other.”

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