By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer
On March 16, Kentucky state legislature passed a bill raising the minimum age to marry from 13 to 16, a bill that was fiercely opposed to by impassioned, family oriented Christians. While the bill passing is a step in the right direction, the backlash to the proposal was nothing short of disgusting.
For background, all states generally require those 17 and younger to get consent from a parent or judge. Nine states, including Kentucky under current law, allow officials to waive the minimum age requirements for girls who are pregnant. This means if a child is abused by a much older man, her parents can force her to marry her abuser. The law as is means parents get more say in the child’s livelihood than the courts, meaning anyone as young as 13 could marry someone three times their age, merely because their parents, no matter how physically or emotionally abusive, told them to.
Such a story has been seen in the Kentucky families testimony of Donna Pollard. She got married at 16 to a man almost twice her age after growing up with a physically and emotionally abusive mother, who encouraged the relationship and consented to the marriage. She was forced to drop out of school and live with a man twice her age she was manipulated into marrying.
Pollard’s story does not end in disaster, however, as she is now the leader of Survivors’ Corner, an advocacy group for victims of sexual assault.
“Child marriage perpetuates cycles of poverty, interrupted educational opportunities, domestic violence, and sexual assault whether locally or internationally,” says the group in reaction the proposed bill.
While I shouldn’t need to explain just how outrageously terrible this law is, the backlash to the change of this law is far more disgusting.
The main opposition to this bill was the Family Foundation of Kentucky. As if the name didn’t give it away, they are a conservative, religious freedoms group with a focus on family values.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky encourages abstinence only sex education, which is perfect for the minors who don’t realise just what their sexual abusers are doing to them. There is no better way to protect the sanctity of marriage then letting an adult take advantage of a child, then manipulate said child into marriage, all because they don’t know just what is wrong with what they are doing.
More important to the Family Foundation’s character, they would sooner give rights to an unborn human than to a 13 year old girl who has been sexually abused. It is more important a parent make the decision for her to marry than the courts, but god forbid a much older girl wishes to abort their child.
Not only this, but they are also one of the leading forces in the fight against same sex marriage. So naturally a child should be forced to marry their abuser, but god forbid two fully consenting adults get to simply for being born the same sex.
If my tone hasn’t given it away yet, I am more than disgusted with the state of “family values” in Kentucky.
Thankfully, much like Pollard’s story, this does not end in disaster, as the Kentucky legislature has since passed the bill raising the minimum age to marry and including judicial consent in child marriages.
The bill still must go through the governor, but this is an excellent start to the end of a problem that shouldn’t exist in the modern world.
Whether the bill passes or not is important, but the larger issue is that there are still those that oppose the prevention of faux consensual child marriage, and on the ground of protecting family values of all things.