In 2018, Tennessee finally joined the rest of the civilized world via a bill that outlawed marriage involving persons under the age of 18. One would think that such a thing would put to rest the idea of underage marriage.

Not in Tennessee.

Tennessee also had on the books, a law banning “forced marriages.” One would think that such a notion wouldn’t be challenged.

Not in Tennessee.

Republican state representative Tom Leatherwood introduced legislation that would effectively bring back child marriages and greenlight forced marriages. HB-0233 would make that all happen.

Tennessee’s state legislative website describes House Bill 0233 as deleting marriage licensing statutes and limiting the state courts’ jurisdiction on common law marriages.

That all sounds well and good for folks in Tennessee who think that the big problem with marriage is government overreach. But what the bill actually does is a far cry from that. It legalizes child marriage, forced marriages, and takes away any legal recourse for others who may not be able to consent for whatever reason.

As a small concession to the sane world, the bill does allow the state to keep incestual and polyamorous relationships from being sanctified in matrimony.

The bill also maintains the “marriage is between one man and one woman” language, but that line is superseded by federal law which allows for two people of the same sex to be married. That law became the law of the land in the 2015 Supreme Court of the United States decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Leatherwood told Nashville-based WKRN the bill would “give an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage in our law.”

So, Leatherwood is championing the child rapists and others who want to marry without the consent of the other person. It also effectively legalizes statutory rape — so long as the adult marries the victim.

Fortunately, not everyone in Tennesse is for the legislation.

Mike Stewart (D-Nashville), sits on the House Children and Family Affairs Subcommittee. They recently sent HB 0233 to the Civil Justice Committee.

He told WKRN that the bill should be eliminated.

“It’s basically a get out of jail free card for people who are basically committing statutory rape — I mean it’s completely ridiculous,” Stewart said.

Surely, millions of Americans will agree with Stewart. But remember, this is Tennessee. So, the bill is scheduled on the committee’s calendar for this coming Wednesday.

Considering that this bill actually made it out of the subcommittee, where it will go from there is anybody’s guess.


Featured image via Wikipedia