The child-like, and dictator-like, antics of President Trump on losing the election have made many commentators, including this one, reflect on whether the U.S. is a third-world country. Those thoughts and comments led me to remember a blog I wrote over a year ago, which addressed another U.S. third-world phenomenon – child marriage laws.
A recent article (in 2019), about a fifteen-year-old girl who was forced by her parents to travel from California to Mississippi to marry a forty-three year old man, triggered a thought that the U.S. has many aspects usually attributed to third-world countries that we don’t realize, and certainly don’t want to admit. It prompted me to look into the marriage-age rules of each state. The result was horrifying.
- Thirteen (13) U.S. states have no minimum-age limit on when people, or children, can get married: They include Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia.
- North Carolina and Alaska have a minimum-age limit of fourteen (14).
- Washington DC, Maryland, Indiana, Kansas and Hawaii have a minimum-age limit of fifteen (15).
- Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut have a minimum-age limit of sixteen (16).
- Oregon, Nevada, Nebraska, Tennessee and Florida have a limit of seventeen (17).
- Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Delaware have a minimum-age limit of eighteen (18).
- AND, in all states, it only takes the signature of a judge, OR the parents to legally confirm the marriage. The wishes of the individual have no legal bearing on the matter.
In most states you can’t vote until you are twenty-one (21), you can’t drink until you are eighteen (18) and you can’t drive until you are sixteen (16). Yet in twenty (20) states you can get married, or forced to be married, at fifteen (15) or less.
We’re all horrified when we read about forced marriages in India and the Middle East, but we tend to dismiss them as occurring in foreign, backward, third-world countries.
What does that say about the United States as a role model, and about us, individually, when we allow this to go on in our back yard? Sorry, in our own back yard! It may be a case of pure ignorance on the part of most of us but, collectively, it is certainly a case of hypocrisy at best!
Time to wake up to reality, and start getting our own house in order, before criticizing others. The U.S. is a third-world country in many aspects, and its time we addressed those issues.
AND, it should be a Federal concern and not be relegated to state jurisdiction. This is supposed to be one country and, therefore, should have one rule for what amounts to encouraging domestic child trafficking.