AUGUSTA — Legislation by Sen. Dave Miramant, D-Camden, would ban marriage for 14 and 15-year-old children. The bill, LD 545, “An Act to Ban Child Marriage,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
“Someone under the age of 16 does not have an understanding of the responsibility and commitment that comes with marriage,” said Sen. Miramant. “We must ask ourselves who is really making this choice, a choice with so many consequences for a lifetime. Is it really the 14-year-old child? I hope my colleagues swiftly pass this bill to protect our kids.”
Sen. Miramant also is concerned that marriage can bring the social acceptance of pregnancy for these children. Teen pregnancy and parenting contribute significantly to high school drop-out rates among teen girls. 30 percent of teenage girls who drop out of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a primary reason. Among those who have a child before age 18, about 40 percent finish high school and fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30.
Currently, marriage licenses may be issued to people who are under 16 years of age with the written consent of their parents or guardians. This bill prohibits marriage for children under 16.
LD 545 faces further action in the Judiciary Committee as well as votes in the Maine House and Senate.