Missouri Republicans Are Apparently Pro-Child Marriage

State News Republican Party
Missouri Republicans Are Apparently Pro-Child Marriage

Current Missouri law enables 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain a marriage license without parental consent, and a bipartisan effort to restrict anyone under 18 from getting married failed in the Missouri House of Representatives late last week.

This bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate 31 to 1, but it stalled out in a Republican committee in the House where half the members stood opposed to it, as the Missouri Independent chronicled:

“It’s government intrusion in people’s lives,” [Rep. Dean Van Schoiack, vice chair of the committee] said in an interview with The Independent on Friday.

Asked what would be lost if 16 and 17 year olds couldn’t get marriage permits anymore, Van Schoiack replied, “Liberties that people currently have.”

“After what’s been through the press and what people are doing, I’m not changing my position now,” he said. “I don’t typically change my mind very easily.”

Other lawmakers who voiced concerns about the bill in committee include GOP state Reps. Ben Baker of Neosho and Mitch Boggs of LaRussell.

Prior to a 2018 law, Missouri had no minimum age requirement to marry, but anyone under 14 had to get a judge’s approval. Van Schoiack and all his other gross friends can talk all they want about freedom or whatever other bullshit they like to delude themselves with, but the impact of their policies is clear. As Human Rights Watch has documented, child marriage “affects girls more frequently and often coincides with other rights violations; including but not limited to domestic violence and impeded access to reproductive health care and education.”

Even in a scenario without the abuse that often comes along with child marriage, it still is something that negatively impacts teenage girls, as demonstrated by the Republican co-sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder.

She married her 21-year-old boyfriend when she was 15, and when introducing the bill with her Democratic co-sponsor state Sen. Lauren Arthur, Rehder said that “at the time, I was operating in what I thought was an adult mindset…but it was only until much later that I realized at 15 years old, you really don’t have the mental capacity to make those types of decisions.”

Missouri Republicans have been enthusiastic in their attempts to roll back women’s rights this year, with state Sen. Rick Brattin even saying that forced birth can be “the greatest healing agent” after the state became the first in the nation to ban abortion. This latest low on child marriage for a party constantly plunging for new depths should be viewed in the context of its broader effort to restrict reproductive health care for women across the country.

It does not matter that the Republican-controlled Missouri Senate nearly unanimously passed this bipartisan bill, nor does it matter that some members on the House committee supported it too. Missouri Republicans killed this bill in the midst of a broader attack on women, and the party does not get to pick and choose which parts of this assault they own. They own it all.

This kind of moral rot can only come from the GOP, so the fact that a handful of extremists are holding up basic human rights legislation should not be treated as some surprise outcome. This is who the party is at its core: anti-women, anti-human rights, anti-everything that doesn’t fit into their extremely narrow, selfish and misogynistic vision of the world.

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