You may remember back in June when New Hampshire officially raised its legal marriage age, and this month Kentucky and Missouri seem to be taking a page out of that legislative book.
According to a local news report from Fox19, Kentucky, a state that currently has one of the highest rates of adolescent marriages in the country, just established a law on Monday, July 16, 2018, that raised the marriage age to 18 years old for both parties. Seventeen year olds may marry pending a court hearing. Prior to this ruling, 16 year olds could marry with parental consent and anyone who was pregnant was permitted to marry the father of her child no matter her age.
Meanwhile, last Friday Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill outlawing marriage for anyone under the age of sixteen, reports Fox News. Now, 16 and 17 year olds will need signed approval from at least one parent, and marriage licenses will not be distributed to anyone aged 21 or older seeking to marry someone 16 or younger.
“The welfare of our children must always be a top priority,” Parson was quoted saying in The Kansas City Star. Additionally, Republican representative Jean Evans, who campaigned for these changes, noted that, "Most important, we are not going to allow adults to prey on children. Someone 21 is not going to be allowed to marry someone 15. We are not going to allow adults to legalize what is statutory rape.”
Shockingly, there was no minimum age before this law was introduced, and in fact, the KCS had reported in early spring of this year that not only did Missouri have some of the most lenient child bride laws in the country, but the state had become a "destination" spot for young newlyweds. From the years 1999 to 2017, they tallied 1,000 15-year-old girls marrying within state lines.
While that should soon change, there are still 18 states across the country with no minimum marriage age that could easily take its place.
Hopefully, the nation will continue addressing child marriage concerns and more states will join Delaware, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and now Kentucky and Missouri in their realization that 2018 is the year to do something. Enough is enough.