Senate advances bill to establish legal marriage age in Louisiana

Updated: May. 14, 2019 at 6:53 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE/LSU Manship School) - A Louisiana Senate committee moved to advance a bill Tuesday (May 14) that would make 18 years old the youngest possible age for a person to get married in the state

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, will now move to the Senate floor, where it is expected to be amended.

There is currently no legal minimum for marriage in Louisiana. Presently, 16 and 17-year-olds must have parental consent to be wed, and anyone under the age of 16 must also obtain permission from a juvenile court judge.

In neighboring states like Texas, the minimum age is 16 and requires a judge’s consent. In Mississippi, parental consent is required for men aged 17 and women aged 15 and above. In Arkansas, the minimum age for minors to marry is 17, with parental consent.

Senator Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen, said although made with good intent, the bill will not guarantee a solution.

“A lot of times we make an attempt to take corrective action to something, but as we all know, just because we put something in law that doesn’t necessarily mean that the bad actors follow that law,” Ward said.

Lawmakers signaled bipartisan support for the bill, agreeing that Louisiana needs a minimum age. But, they are not at agreement what age would be appropriate.

Sen. W. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, suggested that the bill needs more consideration to avoid casting “such a wide net,” he said.

“I think we need to pick an arbitrary number. I just don’t think 18 is the number,” Luneau said.

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