Lawmakers in the state of Maryland attempted to follow the trend sweeping the US to increase the age at when a girl can be married and failed in their attempts do to women’s rights advocates.
In April of this year, arguments were made against the bill saying it would limit the rights of young women to seek abortions as well as arguments that if a girl is old enough to consent to sexual relations at age 16, as is allowed in the state, then they were also old enough to enter into marriage.
The executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Michelle Siri, said that if lawmakers were concerned about teens being coerced into early marriages, there were better ways to help them.
We want them to have as many options as possible. If they think marriage is the best way out of a bad situation — at home or otherwise — then we’re not there to stop them.
Another argument was made that being married allows a teen mother to access certain rights that are otherwise not available to children of teen mother, those rights being access to medical services and other state provided aid.
Currently under Maryland state laws minors need parental consent to marry unless a female is pregnant or has given birth.
In 2016, 85 minors were married in the state. 10 of those marriages were 2 minors marrying each other. 34 of the marriages were to people 18 or 19 years of age. 25 of the marriages were to a person in their 20’s. The remaining 6 were married to someone in their 30’s.
The bill that was proposed would have prevented anyone under the age of 18 from getting married regardless of circumstances. State senators wanted to alter the bill to set the limit at 16 years of age while state Delegates wanted to alter it to the age of 17.
Instead, the bill will remain at the current age of 15 years old.
This the second year in a row Maryland has has attempted to change the age for marriage in the state and both times have failed – making Maryland a great state for pro-teen rights so long as the teen is at least 15 years of age.