Guess Who Can’t Get Married in Arkansas NowApril 3, 2008
I’m all about tying the knot lately. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. It’s all right here in the blog. But, in case you were really worried about this like we were, it is finally official that toddlers can no longer legally get married in the state of Arkansas. What a crisis.
But we’re not kidding.
Last year, a law was mistakenly passed in the state of Arkansas that allowed anyone, regardless of age – meaning even toddlers – to get married with parental permission. Yesterday, the governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, signed a measure repealing the law.
It wasn’t until last year’s regular session ended that Arkansas lawmakers realized what had happened. The intent of the law was to actually establish 18 as the minimum age for marriage in the state, not to remove the age limit altogether. The bill, as it was signed, allowed anyone who wasn’t pregnant to marry no matter how old they are as long as there was parental consent.
It all came down to an extra word in the bill. Just a tiny little “not” made all the difference. Can you imagine? It will definitely make me choose my words a little more carefully in the future, that’s for sure!
The original bill states: “In order for a person who is younger than eighteen years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage.”
Obviously, this bill is intended for kids who get pregnant at an early age to get married – like that’ll solve the problem. Maybe that’s for people who also solve the problem of a dying marriage by having a baby. Maybe they were that baby, who knows. Education on certain issues couldn’t count for anything.
I thought a little more about the bill, as it was originally stated, not intended, and then I thought, “Oh God!” All I can see is some overanxious parents who think status is everything and claim that their 3-year-olds are just perfect for each other!
In my mind I am seeing those ambiguously religious and slightly disturbing Precious Moments figurines, of angelic little toddlers engaging in adult-like scenes…you know like marriage(!)…
Getting back to more serious matters, lawmakers, after realizing what had been put into law, called for a special session, concerned that pedophiles might actually take advantage of the law. Governor Beebe didn’t do it back then, since he didn’t believe there was any real threat of children marrying under the law.
A special session was held this week in Arkansas (nothing to do with the child marrying law) and Governor Beebe corrected the mistake. Arkansas reinstated 17 as the minimum marrying age for boys and 16 for girls.
But you know, we really rest easy tonight, knowing that toddlers can’t get married. In the state of Arkansas at least.
M, J, and S