CITIZEN VOICES® Raise NH marriage age to 18?

Jan 11, 2019

Last year, the Legislature voted to raise the minimum age for marriage in New Hampshire to 16 years old. This year, lawmakers will consider a bill raising that age to 18. 

The 2019 bill, HB 378, also repeals the ability of minors under age sixteen to petition the court for a marriage license.

Before last year, girls as young as 13 and boys as young as 14 could be married with parental permission and court approval. 

Recent history of the marriage age debate

Last year’s change was championed by a teenage girl scout from Barrington who has since been elected as a state representative. Rep. Cassie Levesque is the prime sponsor of this new bill raising the age to 18. There have been several attempts in the recent past to raise the minimum, but all failed up until last year. 

No change for gay couples

This change would not impact the marriage age for homosexual couples, which is currently set at 18.

Pros and Cons

Supporters argue that 16-year-olds are not mature enough to enter into a marriage contract. They express concern that such young people could be coerced into getting married by their parents without truly grasping the gravity of such a decision. Supporters also point out that more young girls who marry don’t finish their education. 

Opponents argue that young people may wish to marry at a young age in cases of teen pregnancy or for religious reasons.  They feel that the marriage age should be kept the same as the age of consent, which is currently 16 for heterosexual couples in New Hampshire. 

Should New Hampshire raise the marriage age from 16 to 18?

Comments

Terry Cox
- Webster

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 9:33am

Yes. 16-year-olds are too young and inexperienced to make a choice that affects their lives--having children in particular.

Eric Detweiler
- Rochester

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 5:31pm

Marriage as far as the state should be concerned is a legal issue, and until 18 a person is not considered to be an adult or otherwise able to make choices concerning their medical care and a variety of other legal stuff. If a person wants to get married in a church under 18 that's up to them, but the state should not recognize it until they're 18 or a legally emancipated minor

Chuck Malias
- Manchester

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 7:44am

Well said, Eric. Agree with you 100%

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