KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska lawmaker is seeking to change the state law that allows a person as young as 14 to marry.
State Sen. Berta Gardner is planning to introduce legislation to increase the legal age of marriage to 18 in Alaska, the Ketchikan Daily News reported .
The Democratic senator’s legislation would also allow emancipated minors above the age of 16 to marry.
Under current state law, a person between the age of 14 and 18 can marry with permission from a superior court judge. After a hearing with the parents and the minor, the judge may grant permission if the “marriage is in the best interest of the minor,” according to the state law.
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“I was shocked that girls under 18 — and even under 16 — can get married in Alaska because they really are just girls,” Gardner said. “They can’t rent an apartment, they can’t make a doctor’s appointment, they can’t open up a bank account, but they can get married? And even though the numbers of it actually happening here are really small, it’s still wrong in my view.”
From 2006 to 2015, four marriage licenses were issued to 14-year-old children, according to an Alaska Vital Statistics report. The teenagers in three of those cases married a person older than 25.
Gardner said she expects some bipartisan support for her legislation, but she noted that state legislators can be surprising.
Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com