Florida Moves to Ban Under-16 Marriages

Rep. cites case of 13-year-old groom
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2014 1:17 AM CDT
Updated Mar 19, 2014 5:03 AM CDT
Florida also allows underage marriage if both parents are dead, or the teen has been married before.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Floridians too young to drive should be considered too young to get married, even if they're not too young to have made a baby, a Florida lawmaker says. Rep. Cynthia Stafford, a Democrat, has introduced a bill to scrap a law that allows people 15 or younger to marry if they have a baby or are expecting one, the Sun-Sentinel reports. "Marriage is an adult responsibility," she says. "We don't want them to vote, we don't want them to drink alcohol, they can't drive a car, and we allow them to marry under 16."

"You may say, 'this does not happen nowadays,' but in 2012 we had a 13-year-old groom in the state of Florida," Stafford told a House subcommittee. State records show that there were 110 marriages of children 16 and younger in the state last year, though the statistics don't reveal how many of them were 15 or younger. The bill would still allow 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with parental consent. If it becomes law, Florida will join Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin in banning under-16 marriages under all circumstances. (Read more marriage stories.)

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