Bill to prohibit marriage for teens under 18 watered down

For those 16 and 17, there would be two options

By Howard Fischer Capitol Media via Arizona Daily Star

A House panel voted Wednesday to restrict the ability of teens younger than 18 to marry in Arizona — but only after lawmakers created a couple of ways around that.

The 8-1 vote came after Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, conceded she could not get the votes for her original plan to outlaw marriage entirely by anyone younger than 18. In fact, she could not even get Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who chairs the House Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, to give her bill a hearing.

Her only choice was to agree to water down her plan.

Arizona is in the majority of states that has no minimum age to wed. Instead, teens aged 16 and 17 can marry with the consent of a parent.

Those younger than 16 can wed if they have parental permission as well as the permission of a judge, who gets to determine if the marriage is voluntary and in the “best interests” of the minor. Judges also can impose other conditions, like requiring the youth to continue attending school.

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