A proposal to raise the legal marriage age in Missouri is being considered in the state senate.

It proposes to raise Missouri’s current legal age to marry to 18 and prevents anyone younger from being able to get married. Identical bills are sponsored Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Sikeston, and Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City.

Rehder recounts her own story where she got married at the age of 15 to her, then, 21-year-old boyfriend.

“At the time I was operating in, what I thought was an adult mindset,” Rehder said. “It was only until much later, our marriage lasted seven years, but it was only until much later that I realized that at 15-years-old, you really don’t have the mental capacity to make those type of decisions.”

Currently in Missouri, 16 and 17-year-olds can get married with parental consent.

Arthur lays out data showing the dark realities of female teens getting married.

“These girls are much more likely to develop serious health conditions, experience intermittent partner violence, and present with more psychiatric disorders, and poor mental health. Their educational attainment and earning potential are often stunted and, for teen mothers, getting married, and later divorcing, can more than double the likelihood of poverty,” she said. “It’s also worth mentioning that the divorce rate among this group is about 70-80%.”

Timothy Faber, a 40-plus-year minister who opposes the legislation,. He’s a legislative liaison at the Missouri Baptist Convention who says he has never conducted a marriage ceremony for a minor, but says there could be a few “rare circumstances” where exceptions might be appropriate.

“That door for children, minors under the age of 18 to get married, certainly needs to be tightened up, narrowed in some way,” Faber said. “We can talk about that, but to just absolutely close the door, can’t support that.”

The bill could pass out of committee soon.

Click here or here for the bills.

Copyright 2024, Missourinet.