At one time, the state allowed very young women and men to marry at ages 13 and 14, respectively (we guess the disparity acknowledged that girls mature a little faster?) with the permission of a judge. But local news outlet Union Leader now reports that thanks to Gov. Chris Sununu's signature on HB 1587, the legal age of marriage has officially changed to 16 for both genders with permission from a judge, and to 18 generally.
Levesque has been fighting for this since her previous bill that sought to raise the marriage age failed back in 2017. Her endeavors were closely followed by media outlets all over the world—including Brides, The New York Times, and the BBC.
Those who opposed her efforts argued that raising the marriage age would mean that young armed service members would lose the right to marry their high school sweethearts before being deployed and thus miss out on certain family benefits. Another concern was voiced about girls who conceive out of wedlock, and respecting their wish to marry the father of their child if their families and a judge approved. But their challenges did not deter Levesque.
"It’s an issue that’s really personal to me, since both my grandmother and great-grandmother were child brides,” Levesque told UL.
Earlier this year, Levesque testified at public hearings and was able to watch from the congress gallery when three new wedding-related bills cleared both the state House and Senate.
While HB 1587 specifically raises the legal age of marriage to 16, HB 1586 says a forced marriage could constitute sexual assault, and HB 1661 explicitly requires a judge to grant permission for a marriage of anyone 16 or 17 years old.
All three legislative pieces started as Levesque’s Girl Scout Gold Award project. Today, Levesque is leading a Brownie troop as a freshman at Southern New Hampshire University, where she is majoring in political science.
“To allow children ages 13, 14, or 15 to marry is just inconceivable,” Levesque said at the House hearing. “Allowing that to happen takes away their future, and I know in my heart that is not something that anyone here wants to happen.”