06 April 2008

Arkansas outlaws toddler marriages

Amazingly the date for this news story (here) isn’t April 1 but there’s no need to start humming duelling banjos either! A law that mistakenly allowed anyone to marry with parental permission was repealed by a measure signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Mike Beebe, It ended months of embarrassment for the state.

Lawmakers didn't realize until after the end of last year's regular session that a law they approved, intended to establish 18 as the minimum age for marriage, instead removed the minimum age to marry entirely. An extraneous "not" in the bill allowed anyone who was not pregnant to marry at any age with permission. The bill read: "In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage."

Some lawmakers called for a special session last year, but the Governor didn't see any imminent crisis and said the chances of children marrying under the law were slim. Legislators, however, had the chance for a do-over when Beebe convened a special session to consider a hike in the state's severance tax on natural gas. They repealed the botched law, and reinstated 17 as the minimum age to marry for boys and 16 for girls.

Rep. Will Bond, the sponsor of the botched 2007 law and its correction, apologized for the error and asked his colleagues to "throw me a rope and bail me out here. I always thought if you put your name on a bill, you should be ready to take the blame if you're willing to accept the credit," Bond said Wednesday.

Mercifully hadn't been any reports of young children attempting to marry under the 2007 law. I’m not sure why there is a different minimum age for boys and girls though. That said, it’s good to see a politician not trying to spin their way out of a cock up!

16 comments:

Nunyaa said...

Even 16 and 17 is too young to be getting married, sad.

The Lone Beader said...

The age is probably different because girls are more mature than boys. LOL.

beakerkin said...

Jams

As an immigration officer I have seen
12 and 14. In the USA consent ages are governed where the marriage is contracted.

I heard you retired when the woman from the UK married a Dolphin in Israel. Can you imagine trying to sort out that mess?

beakerkin said...

The dolphin died so I will not have to deal with that case.....

jams o donnell said...

I agree Nunya. I couldn't imagine tying the knot at that age

At any age LB!

Marrying a dolphin Beakerkin? I've not heard of that one!

Crushed said...

Prior to 1885, a boy could marry in England at 14, and a girl at 12.

jams o donnell said...

I'm very glad times have changed Crushed

beakerkin said...

Jams google woman marries Dolphin it is true. The Dolphin died so you can make up whatever joke suits your taste

Bryan said...

For a very long time in the South the age of consent has been lower for women than men, so it is "traditional" and must never be questioned. There are a lot of laws in the US that are pure silliness, but you can't get rid of them because they are "traditional".

Steve Bates said...

Rep. Bond should be charged with mixing metaphors. "[T]hrow me a rope and bail me out here"? Give me a break!

This is a cultural decision. In some cultures (India comes to mind), children of families whose parents are closely associated may be betrothed from young childhood. Good or bad practice? I invite you to argue the matter with one of my elderly Indian friends, whose son recently married a lovely woman chosen by... his parents and hers. It's not how we would do things, but in some cases that's not the only consideration, or indeed any consideration at all.

As for Arkansas... please, please don't judge Americans based on what Arkansans would or would not do. :)

jams o donnell said...

I'll have to look that one up Beakerkin!

There are plenty of crass laws here too Bryn, so the South is not alone in that!

Ah Steve, not so much a mixed as a mangled metaphor! Seriously, it was a story that gave me an excuse for the title. I can only imagine that the cock-up played right into a stereotype view of the state.

As for arranged marriages, they don't bother me - where the family acts simply as matchmaker and does not try to coerce.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I got my first marriage proposal when I was 10. It was a note all folded up with a plastic ring from Chuck E. Cheese Pizza inside and it said:
Will you marry Big M? Pleeeasssseee? Check One
Yes____
No____

Thank goodness we didn't live in Arkansas.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

You left a comment about "Dueling Tubas" that had my oldest daughter in fits of laughter. She can proudly play Dueling Banjos on the piano and she likes to go to stores and record it on their keyboards that they have for sale and then hit play on all of them at the same time to re-create a synthesized hillbilly Jamboree.

I'm one proud mama.

jams o donnell said...

LOL you would be a couple of years off your Silver Anniversary EWBL!

Ha I would like to se what the music stores make of Sunbum's prank. It myust be fun to see!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ha! Just shows how careful one should be when proof-reading. Yes, good to see a politician not trying to spin his way out of it.

jams o donnell said...

That he threw his hands up was quite admirable. most politicians would try and bullshit their way out of it