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Florida lawmaker moves to ban under-16 crowd from marrying

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Florida lawmaker said she'd like to put a stop to all marriages in the state from going forward if the partners aren't at least 16 years old.

Current law allows those under the age of 15 to marry if they already have a child or the female is pregnant, and parents or courts approve.

But Rep. Cynthia Stafford, a Democrat who represents Miami, said that marriage should be like driver's licenses when it comes to legal age limits.

"Marriage is an adult responsibility," Miss Stafford told the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "We don't want [children] to vote, we don't want them to drink alcohol, they can't drive a car — and we allow them to marry under 16?"

She insisted that those who say "this does not happen nowadays" are in denial.

"In 2012, we had a 13-year-old groom in the state of Florida," Miss Stafford said after the committee hearing, the Sentinel reported. "I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. Here, we have a 13-year-old going through puberty, who now is a husband because, apparently, he made a baby. I just don't think that should be the policy of this state."

Several states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and Oklahoma, have in place laws that let children of any age who have their own children get married without parental permission. But Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky law mandates a court still has to approve.

If Miss Stafford's bill is approved, Florida would become the eleventh state to ban marriage under the age of 16, no matter the circumstance, the Sentinel reported.

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