Sen Jud A talking child arriage 051419

Louisiana Senate Judiciary A Committee on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, advanced a proposal to raise Louisiana’s minimum age for marriage.

Legislation to ban child marriages in Louisiana cleared a Senate panel Tuesday and heads to the full Senate for a vote.

Senate Bill 172 will be amended on its way to the floor with more specific language.

The wording being considered would link marriageable age to state laws that forbid adults from having sex with minors aged 17 and under – except when they’re married. “That is where we need to regulate,” said Morgan Lamandre of STAR, which stands for Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, a nonprofit assistance group begun in Baton Rouge.

State Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, said he also would like to see a set minimum age. “We need to pick an arbitrary number. I just don’t think 18 is the number,” he said.

Sen. Yvonne Colomb, the Baton Rouge Democrat sponsoring SB172, promised she would not pursue the legislation on the Senate floor until agreeable terms are drafted.

The Senate Judiciary A committee advanced the legislation. Last year, the panel approved similar legislation but that bill never brought to the full Senate for a vote. This one will be, Colomb said.

Louisiana has no legal minimum age for marriage. But under current Louisiana law, if one or both partners are aged 16 or 17, then parents need to appear at the clerk’s office at the time of the marriage application. Under the age of 16 requires a judge’s consent. There is no set minimum age to marry in Louisiana.

In Texas, the minimum age is 16 and requires a judge’s consent. Mississippi requires the permission of the parents for men aged 17 and 15-year-old women. Arkansas minors can marry at 17 if parents agree.

In Louisiana, 4,532 people under the age of 18, one as young as 12, were legally married between 2000 and 2010, according to a compilation of marriage licenses by a nonprofit organization and Frontline, a documentary television program.

The legislative session ends June 6.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.