Lawmaker Rebukes Republican’s Defense of Child Marriage with One Powerful Sentence

In a recent legislative debate in New Hampshire, a Republican lawmaker sparked controversy by advocating for child marriage, suggesting that minors are at a “ripe, fertile age” for such unions.

This statement ignited widespread criticism, particularly from within the LGBTQ+ community, where members felt unfairly labeled as “groomers” while the GOP defended child marriage.

The discussion arose around S.B. 359, a bill aimed at preventing marriage under the age of 18. Formerly, New Hampshire law allowed girls as young as 13 and boys as young as 14 to marry, a statute updated to set the minimum age at 16 in 2018.

Republican opposition dominated the debate, with State Rep. Jess Edwards arguing against the bill, expressing concern that restricting marriage options for young people might lead to an increase in abortions.

However, his comments were met with online backlash for seemingly endorsing teen pregnancy and using terms like “ripe” and “fertile” to describe underage individuals.

Lawmaker Rebukes Republican's Defense of Child Marriage with One Powerful Sentence

Statistics from organizations like the Pew Research Center and Unchained At Last shed light on the prevalence and consequences of child marriage, particularly the disproportionate impact on minor girls married to adult men.

The defense of child marriage within the Republican ranks drew sharp criticism, especially as some conservatives resorted to labeling LGBTQ+ individuals as “groomers” while advocating for such unions.

State Rep. Alissandra Murray, a Democrat who identifies as trans and nonbinary, spoke out against this hypocrisy, emphasizing the discomfort of being labeled a groomer while Republicans openly discussed the concept of “fertile teenagers” and advocated for legalizing child marriage.

Despite opposition, S.B. 359 passed the House with a narrow majority. Its enactment into law, pending Governor Chris Sununu’s signature, would mark a significant step in ending child marriage in New Hampshire, aligning the state with others that have similarly prohibited the practice without exceptions.

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