Lawmakers in Louisiana have decided against setting a minimum age to marry in the state, with one lawmaker arguing that “a lot of 16-year-olds are very mature.”
The Republican-led House over the weekend declined to take up a Senate bill that would bar anyone under the age of 16 from being able to marry in the state, instead voting overwhelmingly in support of a rewritten version of the bill that says parental consent must be given for residents under the age of 18 to marry, reports The Associated Press.
The House voted 66-28 in support of the rewritten bill.
State Rep. Stephanie Hilferty (R) supported the Senate’s version of the bill, saying a minimum age is necessary to prevent people from “covering up acts of rape as a marriage.”
State Rep. Nancy Landry (R) said she didn’t like the way lawmakers made it sound like every teenager who is married is a sex trafficking victim.
“It’s really disturbing to me, because a lot of 16-year-olds are very mature,” Landry said.
“If they’re both 16 years old, and they both consent to sexual relations, and they’re about to have a baby, why wouldn’t we want them to be married?” Landry said. “Just as a public policy of the state we want children born into wedlock, if possible.”
Current law in Louisiana states minors who are 16 or 17 require parental consent to be married, while those under 16 need a judge’s approval.