Apparently, conservatives in Louisiana have seen all the “Fight For 15” protests over the years and completely misunderstood them. Because Republicans in Louisiana are certainly “fighting for 15.” But in this case, that number refers to the age at which they can marry girls — NOT the minimum wage.
The age of consent in Louisiana is 17-years-old. But according to the state GOP, men should be able to marry girls two years before that.
The state currently has no minimum marriage age. This leaves open the door to child marriages and coverups for human trafficking and rape.
Democrats sought to fix that problem by doing the logical thing and setting the minimum marriage age to the same as the age of consent — 17.
But Republicans had other plans and fought back viciously against the measure. Despite a 63-to-31 vote for an amendment in favor of setting the age to marry at 17, Republicans rewrote the bill to allow minors as young as 15 to get married.
“We want children to be born into wedlock if possible,” says Republican Rep. Nancy Landry. “We’re discouraging that with this. If they’re both 16 or 15 and having a baby why wouldn’t we want them to get married?”
“A lot of 16-year-olds get pregnant,” Republican Rep. Valarie Hodges says. “Do you feel it’s better for them to not get married at all and for the child to be born illegitimately?”
Republican Beryl Amedee brought an amendment that would allow his party to heavily rewrite the bill. This would also strip away the age floor set by the Democrats’ amendment and once again leave children vulnerable.
Children would be able to go before a judge, who would then determine if they could marry their chosen (or not-so-chosen) spouse.
So, the bill heads back to the Senate for some kinks to be hammered out.
Democratic Rep. Pat Smith says she is “in awe” of the opposition to taking measures to protect children — especially given the GOP’s opposition to providing adequate sex education to the state’s kids.
“That’s not right in our state,” Smith said, pointing to examples of teenage girls marrying men in their 30s and 40s. “We need to protect our children.”
More than 4,500 people under 18 (one as young as 12) were married between 2000 and 2010 in the state.
Current state law does have some protections in place. Kids can marry at 16 if one or both partners are over age 17. Below that, a judge must approve.
But, of course, one must wonder how competent the judges are who decide this if there are documented cases of 12-year-olds getting married.
Recently, Louisiana’s governor signed a six-week abortion ban into law with no exceptions for rape or incest.
This means that the state GOP has decided that women, teens, and girls are not responsible enough to decide if they should have a baby. But they are responsible enough for the difficulties and responsibilities of marriage.
After all, how else are these girls going to raise the babies they were forced to produce and still make God happy if they aren’t married to the guy who got them pregnant — whether it be by regular, everyday sex or rape.