Bill to ban marriage under 17 years old resurrected, to be heard again tuesday news 9game


Jernigan and Yarbro’s original bill proposed banning marriage for those under the age of 18. However, Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, who serves as a subcommittee member and Majority Leader, introduced an amendment reducing the age to 17 years old with the consent of the child’s parents or guardian and a judge.

Data from the Tennessee Department of Health showed that there were 7,670 minors wed in Tennessee between 2000 and 2014. According to a press release from Casada’s office, of those cases, 91 percent were marriages between minors and legal adults and 89 percent were minor girls married to adult men. In rare circumstances, the statistics also showed children as young as 12 being married.

“I mimicked what two other states have done; that’s where I was coming from,” Casada later said. “I brought an amendment to make it 17 years old. There are thousands of marriages like those that are within the norms of society. My parents were 16 when they got married. There are a lot of successful marriages [between youth] that are 17 when they get married.”

However, Jernigan had already submitted his own amendment, which proposed the same age reduction as Casada’s but also included emancipation for minors, giving them legal rights such as the power to retain an attorney, but does not allow for such rights as voting or alcohol use.

“The granting of a petition for permission to marry filed under subsection (a) shall remove the disabilities of minority. A minor emancipated by the petition shall be considered to have all the rights and responsibilities of an adult, except for specific constitutional or statutory age requirements, including voting, the use of alcoholic beverages, and other health and safety regulations relevant to the minor because of the minor’s age.”

Jernigan argued that those under the age of 18 don’t have “emancipation,” or adult legal rights and, such as the ability to retain an attorney, sign a binding contract or restraining order, and therefore should not be able to enter into a legal marriage contract. He said such restrictions could help prevent possible forced marriage in some cases.

“Without emancipation, they would not be able to enter into a contract. You cannot get an order of protection,” Jernigan said. “You cannot get an attorney to file for a divorce. You can’t even get a 6-month lease for an apartment. This will put them on legal footing to have the same rights and responsibilities as an adult and that’s why emancipation is so important because if they are coerced, if there is pressure, then my bill allows for a waiting period to be able exercise their rights. … ”

“Our hearts are in the right place to end child marriage,” Jernigan said. “We are just a few words difference. I think we are going to get there and get this through,” Jernigan said, thanking Casada for bringing the bill back for the subcommittee’s consideration.

Jernigan explained that the state requires education and even has child labor laws as well as laws against children drinking and smoking to protect their health and well-being. He believes a ban on child marriage, under the age of 17, does the same to protect children against harm.

Casada explained in subcommittee previously last week that his motion to put the bill on summer study stemmed from information submitted by former Sen. David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, explaining the bill could potentially interfere with a lawsuit against the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing marriage between same-sex couples.

“This is due to a court case pending that is not related to the marriage of minors, but our actions could be interpreted to support this case we would like to win as a state,” Casada said, based on the ability of a judge to sign off on marriage petitions.