Child marriage The Wyoming Republican Party is outraged by a

Child marriage: The Wyoming Republican Party is outraged by a law that wants to restrict it

In the United States, the Wyoming Republican Party is attempting to thwart a bill that would propose raising the legal age for marriage to 16, arguing against the imposition of “arbitrary” restrictions that interfere with parental rights and religious freedom.

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As Newsweek explains, the bill proposes to bar residents of the state from marrying anyone under the age of 16 and require anyone under the age of 18 seeking marriage to obtain written consent from their parents under the eyes of a witness .

Currently, Wyoming is one of eight states in the country that has no minimum age for marriage, and it currently ranks in the top ten states in the country for child marriage, according to a 2021 study by American association Unchained, which opposes Child Marriage Struggles at Last, and quoted by Newsweek.

If the current Democratic opposition proposal finds favor with some Republican-majority elected officials, and this bill primarily affects an age group little affected by marriage — in Wyoming, 97% of child marriages involve girls aged 16-17 — several elected Conservatives preferred to oppose the project.

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The reasons for the Republican opposition

Using Wyoming Family Watch’s language, the state’s GOP, in a letter to voters, says the law is an attack on religious freedom in the state, arguing that prohibiting under-16s from marrying amounts to “the denying the most important foundations of marriage”. .

The letter adds that the law denies teenage parents the ability to stay together under one roof for any children they may have together, although there is nothing in the law text to prevent those children from having co-parenting.

End loophole in pedophilia prosecution

However, this law is necessary for its defenders in the fight against pedophilia.

Indeed, these child marriages can be a way of avoiding criminal prosecution for pedophilia – especially if the young girl later becomes a mother – because of the issue of the child’s best interests.

Frady Reiss, founder of Unchained At Last, told Newsweek: “In the case of a girl who is raped and becomes pregnant, the answer for her is that we will not put the rapist in prison for the lawsuit, we will marry him to the girl he raped”.

To counter these arguments, the Republican Party letter states that “in the case of a minor to whom God has given a child, states should consider the best interests of that child.”

This question of the “interests of the child” is not alien to the American political debate. It was part of the language used in the abortion debates, and after the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade.

Most recently, the issue of child marriage also made headlines in Tennessee, where the Republican majority wanted to abolish the legal age for marriage but backed down in the face of opposition from the state’s population.

According to the organization Unchained At Last, between 2000 and 2018, at least 60,000 child marriages in the United States took place at an age or with an age difference between spouses that should have been considered a sex crime.

– With information from Business Insider