Although not taken seriously by many people, marriage is a time when a person becomes united spiritually and legally with someone for the rest of his or her life. It is therefore one of the most serious moments in someone’s life. In the United States, state laws vary when it comes to the age of marriage. While some states have instituted very low age limits for marriage like 14, others did not have any age limit at all. This becomes a serious problem when it comes to many things. Currently, there has been a move in the various state governments to change many of these laws into something more decent and, most of all, more beneficial to the marrying couple. It is important that the legal age for marriage should be raised in order to live up to the latest trend of raising the age of marriage, to correct the errors of the past, to guarantee better marriage, and to ensure the young woman’s future.
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Currently, there has been a recent trend in American politics to raise the age of marriage. Perhaps, more and more politicians, both local and national, have become aware of the problems caused by early marriages or marriages involving minors. In fact, the governor of New York and a senator has pushed for the legal age of marriage in New York to be raised to 18 from the previous age of 14 years as stated by the law. For Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the man behind this local legislation, this was meant to protect young people and offer as a guide for judges who had trouble making a decision whether to grant marriage to a young person or not (“Governor Cuomo”). As one knows, the judge still has to approve the marriage between minors or involving a minor, and judges usually get stuck when making a decision. This law will therefore end the confusion. Aside from the move in New York City, one of the state representatives of Connecticut has expressed concern over the young age of 16 as the legal age in the state. According to the bill passed by Connecticut State Representative Michelle Cook, the marrying age in Connecticut should be raised to 16, but those marrying at the age of 16 and 17 should have their parental consent. They should also seek the approval of the Probate Court before they are allowed to marry (“House Passes”). In fact, this is a move by Cook as a response to the lack of minimum age of marriage in Connecticut, which is considered a worse situation than New York City. This particular bill seeks to consider both the psychological and public health issues that relate to marriage. The bill also seeks to ensure that minors are fully equipped with knowledge about marriage before they are issued the consent to marry (“House Passes”). This is important because most minors who get married are not even familiar with their rights as husbands and wives as well as the legal responsibilities that parenthood entails. So far, this is the current trend in politics regarding the legal age of marriage.
Aside from the need to take part in the current political trend, there is also a need to raise the age of consent in marriage in order to correct the errors of the past. This error is evident in the fact that from 2000 to 2010, not less than 3850 minors from 14 to 18 years of age got engaged in legal marriages in New York, of which 84% of those who got married were young girls who married adult men” (“Senate Acts”). Although no one can judge this type of marriage, the big age gap may usually create a conflict in ideas and principles between the young girl and the adult man. Conflict may then lead to abuse and violence as well as many other psychological problems. This is something that the local and federal governments should take into consideration. It is true that anyone can marry for everyone has the right to it. However, the factor of age is a very important thing. In fact, it is alarming that 84% of these marriages involving minors were young girls who married adult men (“Senate Acts”). This implies that in cases of dispute, conflict or mere quarrel, the young woman will always be at a great disadvantage, whether physically or legally. Thus, raising the age of marriage will hopefully remedy this condition.
We can do it today.
A third reason for raising the legal is to have a guarantee for a higher quality life in marriage. Marriage is supposed to be an enjoyable state of life despite the challenges. It should therefore not cause any unnecessary stress in the first place. The recent legislations in the local and national levels will hopefully guarantee that the young woman is not compelled to marry by force or fraud, thus preventing trauma and psychological problems. In fact, the cause of these trauma and psychological problems is the fact that “girls in particular are vulnerable to being coerced into marrying older men” thus the bill “protects our children by putting safeguards in place to ensure no minor is entering a marriage against their will” (“House Passes”). Thus, the bill will help ensure that no young person will be forced to marry. In short, the legislation is meant to “protect thousands of young people from being exploited and help ensure that anyone in the state seeking a marriage license is doing so on their own free will” (Heastie). Furthermore, the bill ensures that the marrying young person is not compelled by coercion, fraud or force” as these things can cause trauma (“Governor Cuomo”). The point is that any case of forced marriage will destroy any chances of harmony in their relationship and will therefore become the source of most conflict. Thus, in order to fulfill these expectations from the new law, the bill requires that neither of the consenting parties in marriage has a history of domestic violence. In addition, judges must conduct in-person interviews in cases where a minor is getting married (Jennings). The role of the judge here is to determine whether the minor really consents to the marriage or not.
Finally, raising the legal age of marriage will ensure a better future for young women. This means that the new law seeks to prevent young people from dropping out of school because of early marriage. Those who drop out of school are “especially young girls, from the coercive, oppressive and destructive practice of ill-informed or forced marriage” (“Governor Cuomo”). The lesson here is that anyone who was forced will drop out of school or will have career problems sooner or later. Moreover, the legislation will give young people better chances to pursue their goals and plans. Since early marriage often leads to dropping out of school, then young people usually fail in achieving their goals in life (“Governor Cuomo”). Marriage is not supposed to become an obstacle to one’s goals. Instead, it should help one develop into the best person that he or she is meant to be. This explains the importance of raising the age of consent in.
The legislation that will raise the legal age of marriage will be a response to the recent trend in politics, a chance to correct the errors of the past, an opportunity to guarantee better marriage, and a passport to a better future. Marriage must be a time of growth, excitement and positive development. The best way to ensure that marriage will provide benefits to the marrying couple is to raise the age of consent in marriage to 18 or higher. Many states and even the Senate and Congress are amending existing laws in order to carry out this purpose. Thus, there is a need to support these legislations one way or another.
- “Governor Cuomo signs legislation ending child marriage in New York.” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, 2017. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.
- Heastie, Carl. “Assembly Passes Legislation to Increase the Age for Marriage Consent.” New York State Assembly, 2017. Web. 24 Jul. 2017.
- “House Passes Bill Preventing Forced Child Marriage.” Connecticut House Democrats, 2017. Web. 1 Aug. 2017.
- Jennings, Jordan. “Governor Cuomo Plans to Raise the Legal Marriage Age.” Nccnews.Com, 1 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 Jul. 2017.
- “Senate Acts to End Child Marriage in New York.” NY State Senate, 07 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 Jul. 2017.