TSR Politics: North Carolina is trying to move away from the reputation of the state where adults can legally marry kids.
North Carolina lawmakers unanimously voted Tuesday to raise the legal age of marriage in the state from 14 to 16, a move that takes the state a step further in restricting child marriage but stopping short of outlawing it, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The bill, which was passed by the state Senate Tuesday and the House last week, bans children under the age of 16 from tying the knot and requires an age gap of four years or less between a minor (under the age of 18) and the person they marry. So for example, a 16-year-old cannot legally marry anyone older than 20.
The bill now goes to North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper to sign. “While the legislation falls short of raising the age of marriage to 18, the governor supports this step toward ending child marriage in North Carolina and more protections for children,” said Mary Scott Winstead, a spokesperson for the governor.
The bill initially asked for more. The first draft of the bill prohibited anyone under age 18 from marrying, but it was later amended in a Senate committee after some lobbyist groups argued banning minors from getting married might lead more teenagers to get an abortion if they are pregnant and unable to get married, said state Sen. Danny Earl Britt, Jr., a Republican and co-sponsor of the bill.
Lawmakers who supported the bill wanted to avoid any roadblocks that would kill the legislation, he added
“I hope we can get it to go further in the future,” Britt said in an interview before the law was passed Tuesday.
North Carolina may have had one of the youngest age requirements for marriage but it is not the only state that allows minors to get married. Age requirements for marriage vary across the country, though many states do require a person to be at least 18 to marry.
Alaska is the only other state that allows children as young as 14 to get married.
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