Proposed GOP bill eliminates age requirements for marriages in Tennessee

Advocates and child marriage survivors from the group "Unchained at Last" put on wedding gowns, veils, chains and tape over their mouths as they gather on Boston Common before marching to the State House to call for an end to child marriages in Boston, Massachusetts on September 22, 2021. - Currently 44 states in the US allow for marriage under the age 18 and the group states that according to a study they  did that between 2000 and 2018 some 300,000 children, as young as 10, were legally married in the US. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

As abortion ban proposals make their way nationwide, some GOP states are taking the opportunity to propose other horrific laws. A bill, HB 233, has been proposed in the Tennessee state legislature that would establish a common-law marriage between “one man” and “one woman,” WKRN reported.

Bill sponsors claim the proposed bill would add a new marriage option for residents. “So, all this bill does is give an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage in our law,” Tom Leatherwood said. “There is not an explicit age limit.”


However, while the sponsors claim it expands marriage options, they fail to mention the consequences of having no age limit. Since the bill eliminates an age requirement for marriage, child advocates believe it opens the door for child sex abuse. This is because, without an age requirement, there is a possibility of child marriages. 

The move is clearly a step back for the state because the state only signed laws prohibiting the marriage of minors under the age of 17 in 2018. According to The Tennessean, the 2018 bill prohibited anyone under the age of 17 from marrying in Tennessee and anyone under 18 from marrying someone who is four or more years older.

Previous laws before this one allowed a judge to waive the minimum age limit for marriage if guardians of a child consented. 

Various state representatives have pushed back on the bill, including Rep. Mike Stewart, who said he didn’t understand the motivation behind removing the age requirements. “I don’t think any normal person thinks we shouldn’t have an age requirement for marriage.”

He added the potential increase in sex abuse. “It should not be there as it’s basically a get out of jail free card for people who are basically committing statutory rape—I mean it’s completely ridiculous, so that’s another reason why this terrible bill should be eliminated,” Steward said.

According to state data obtained by Unchained at Last, Tennessee granted at least 37 marriage licenses to 17-year-old girls in 2014, the only minors in that year. Additionally, UNICEF found 300,000 girls and boys were married before 18 in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018. 

Removing an age limit only opens up doors for these statistics to grow. GOP states are clearly making moves to take the country in the opposite direction.

“The Sexual Assault Center does not believe the age of consent for marriage should be any younger than it already is. It makes children more vulnerable to coercion and manipulation from predators, sexual and other,” the Sexual Assault Center of Middle Tennessee said in a statement to WKRN. 

6 thoughts on “Proposed GOP bill eliminates age requirements for marriages in Tennessee

    1. Hello Shelldigger. 😀😃😁😆 Love it. Now sure Floridains are any better these days. We have hit the bottom of the barrol with the government going after some of the most defenseless vuneralbe children in the state. A state that already targets POC, dosn’t like democracy but favors authoritainism, cuts or shirnks food assistance to kids and poor families. Bassicly Florida now has a war on poor people. Plus any maga cult member feels OK to attack anyone they feel is too differnet or not like them. I am pretty worried about this state right now. DeathSantis rode tRump to power and realized that to gain higher office he needed to be many times more the asshole, meaner, naster, harsher, less human, less thoughtful, and sneaker than tRump is. May gods help us if the ocean don’t get us first.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am a TN conservative. I find the removal of the age limit for marriage wrong. I am hoping this bill does not pass. Having said that, and reading Scottie’s response above, i see you do not follow your own advice. “If you start insulting others you have already lost.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Frank. I think you misunderstood what I wrote in the profile. I enjoy civil discussions and have no taboo subjects however I insist commenters address topics / issues and not attack each other. If you start insulting others you have already lost. Please notice the topic is civil discussions and commenters addressing the issues not attack each other.
      ShellDigger and I are not attacking each other at all and we are addressing the issue of these Republican bills and the types of Republicans that push them, and the people they appeal to. If you want to talk about the new marriage bill that seem to be designed to exclude same sex couples and how the very party claiming that people fighting the don’t say gay bills are child groomers pedophiles are the ones removing age limits to marry which can be used to legally have sex with children, I am here to listen. Best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

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