Setting minimum marriage age at 18 is a move that is long overdue
We think most reasonable people would agree that allowing an easy way for sexual predators to prey on children and human traffickers to flourish is completely intolerable.
And yet, for the entirety of its existence, Pennsylvania has given those types of people just that because it has not set a minimum age for marriage.
Admittedly, those who have reached the age of 16, but are not yet 18, still require parental consent. But it is still legal for a child of any age to marry, provided parental consent is given and a court believes it is in the best interests of the child, even though it’s hard to fathom how that could possibly be.
A law — or more specifically a lack of one — like this is just begging to be exploited by those who engage in child trafficking and pedophiles hoping to have a child victim as a “spouse,” not to mention how it would severely limit the educational opportunities for most children (the vast majority of which are girls, some of whom are reportedly as young as 12) who are placed in this type of situation.
It should go without saying that Pennsylvania is sorely in need of a minimum age of 18 years to legally marry and it’s why we support the action of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in passing House Bill 360 — which was sponsored by Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford — that does just that. It forbids the issuance of a marriage license if either party is younger than 18.
Advocates say that it would greatly reduce the number of arranged marriages and the resulting exploitation of young people. We couldn’t agree more.
Truthfully, there is no reason a minor should be married and there never has been. Marriages involving minors usually result in the minor becoming the victim of domestic or sexual assault. That means it’s imperative to put a stop to it right now.
The Senate needs to follow the House’s lead and quickly take the long-overdue step to protect the children of Pennsylvania by passing the House version of the bill and soon.