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?
Responses to this question will be presented to legislators debating this bill, as part of our 2019 Citizen Voices® campaign. Only responses from New Hampshire residents will be counted. Please indicate if you are from New Hampshire in your response.