We have some great news for youth ministers, high school gym teachers and R. Kelly. Your right to marry a teenager in Oklahoma is being protected by your allies in the Oklahoma legislature!
Via The Oklahoman:
The Oklahoma House on Monday scrapped legislation to limit minors from getting married.
Previous research shows Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of teen marriages.
In Oklahoma, teenagers ages 16 and older can get married with consent from a parent or legal guardian or consent from a court. Those younger than 16 can only get married if a court approves.
But legislation from Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, would have prohibited minors under age 16 from getting married. Under House Bill 3873, minors ages 16 and 17 seeking to get married would first have to get emancipated, which would have to be approved by a court.
Hmmn. I don’t know about this. It may sound like logical legislation, but how will it impact Oklahoma’s booming teen pregnancy industry? We’ve been a Top 10 state in that market category for generations! Plus, is teenage marriage really that big issue of an issue in this state? Is it something the government should really be worrying about?
Here’s how Jason Dunnington – the leader of the House’s Moderate Republicans posing as a Democrats Caucus – explained his reasoning for the bill:
On the House floor, Dunnington told the story of a 16-year-old Oklahoma girl who said her parents forced her to get married to an abusive man because she was pregnant. He did not name the girl.
“The way our child marriage laws are written right now, it doesn’t give the child that’s getting married much say in the decision,” he said. He characterized his bill as “common sense” legislation.
That’s nice. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching the Oklahoma legislature over the years, it’s that we should always enact sweeping “common sense” legislation on deeply nuanced issues based on anecdotal stories that may or may not paint an accurate picture of the whole issue at hand.
Actually, anecdotal stories about teenage marriage can go both ways. For example…
One of my best friends – and a person who is heavily involved in the behind the scenes wonders of this website – got married as a teen, with her parents’ permission, to her then 18-year-old boyfriend. They’ve now been married for nearly 30 years and are awesome, productive members of society. Stranger still, they genuinely enjoy each other’s company! I asked her opinion on the topic, and this was her answer:
“If the parents will sign off (literally) that should be enough. The government really needs to stay out of personal matters and pussies. Especially ones 16 or younger.”
Oddly enough, most conservative lawmakers agree with this sentiment:
Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, said child marriages are typically reserved for “unusual exceptions that historically have been taken care of within the family.” The situation typically turns out better when parents have more input, he said.
“Overall, the great majority of parents are going to do things that are good for their children,” Olsen said.
“Plus, I want to protect my right to marry any house paige that I see fit.”
Okay, I made up that last quote, but you know that’s what he was thinking…
Anyway, Dunnington said he may try to get the bill passed again, but I doubt he’ll have much luck. Oklahoma Lawmakers will always fight to protect their right to marry your teenager.