The House of Delegates gave initial approval Thursday night to a bill raising the minimum age at which someone can get married to 17. The bill was also introduced during the previous two legislative sessions but was not successful.
Current law allows a 16 or 17 year old to get married with a parent or guardian’s consent, or — in the case of a girl — if a doctor certifies that she’s pregnant. A 15 year old needs both a parent’s permission and proof that the bride-to-be is pregnant.
This bill raises the minimum age to 17.
On the floor, Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, tried to amend the bill to allow emancipated youth to marry and to let pregnant 16 year olds marry if their partners are in the military.
But Democratic Del. C.T. Wilson, House chair of the state Veterans Caucus, pushed back.
“My problem is we’re talking about children,” he said. “At that age, marriage is definitely not a solution, and more times, it ends up being a problem.”
The bill is also scheduled for an initial vote Friday in the Senate. It needs to gain final passage in either the House or the Senate by the end of the day Monday to continue on through the legislative process.