Cool! New Hampshire Republican Goes to Bat for Child Marriage, Says Teens Are ‘Ripe,’ ‘Fertile’

Welp, just go ahead and throw me into the sun already, please! A state representative said allowing pregnant minors to marry would make abortion less “desirable.”

Cool! New Hampshire Republican Goes to Bat for Child Marriage, Says Teens Are ‘Ripe,’ ‘Fertile’

Another week, another Republican state lawmaker caught proudly saying something disgusting—this time, though, the lawmaker killed two birds with one stone and was gross about both abortion and child marriage all in the same breath. In a video shared last week that’s since picked up steam, New Hampshire state Rep. Jess Edwards said that a bill to ban marriage for individuals under 18 would increase the demand for abortion. (??)

“If we continually restrict the freedom of marriage as a legitimate social option, when we do this to people who are of a ripe, fertile age and may have a pregnancy and a baby involved, are we not in fact making abortion a much more desirable alternative, when marriage might be the right solution for some freedom-loving couples?” Edwards, err, reasoned while speaking before the state House last week.

Under current state law, the minimum age for marriage is 16, but until 2018, 13-year-old girls and 14-year-old boys could marry with permission from a judge, which, ick. Thankfully, the bill ultimately passed on Thursday, and if signed, it will raise the minimum age for marriage to 18.

After Edwards’ remarks went viral and were excoriated by the internet, he posted on Facebook on Tuesday that he’s filed a police report after supposedly receiving three death threats over his support for child marriage: “I’ve become a target of a left-wing culture cancel movement. … Social media is weaponized. A democrat rep pointed it at me on Reddit and pulled the trigger. I accept responsibility for selecting a single inappropriate word on the House floor Thursday. The violent reaction isn’t proportionate though.”

It’s a bunch of self-victimizing nonsense that glosses over just how gross Edwards’ comments were. And on top of my reflexive need to vomit from an old man referring to children as “ripe” and “fertile,” what he’s saying also doesn’t make any sense whatsoever—if someone of any age is pregnant and they don’t want to be, they’re going to seek abortion care whether they can get married or not. 

While Edwards’ bizarre decision to sexualize teens with such unsettling language is getting a lot of attention, I’d like to take a moment to remind you all that Republican state lawmakers have been very gross about child marriage for some time now. Around this time last year, state Sen. Mike Moon (R) in Missouri—who you may know from his other hits, such as beheading a chicken on Facebook Live—insisted that 12 years old is a perfectly fine age to marry because… he knows someone who married at 12. Healthy! Would love an update on how that 12-year-old is doing now.

Returning to New Hampshire, state Rep. Cassandra Levesque (D), the author of the bill to ban child marriage, explained that she sees this as an important step to combat human trafficking. “This bill is important to be in law because we know that age of majority does not amount to maturity, and that there is a greater risk of human trafficking and domestic violence without these protections,” she told the New Hampshire Bulletin last week.

Mind you, Edwards and Moon are anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion Republicans whose party has spent the better part of the last couple of years escalating their baseless, fearmongering smears of queer people as “groomers” and child sexual predators. Yet, here’s Edwards calling children “ripe” and insisting they be able to get married—potentially, in fact, likely, to predatory, abusive adults. So, there’s that added dimension of grossness.

As for what child marriage laws look like across the country, age and policies around parental permission or consent from a judge vary by state. In April, Virginia became the latest state to ban child marriage. Meanwhile, at least some minors can marry in 38 states, and in four—California, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma—there is no minimum marriage age. Here’s hoping these other states address that issue soon, and also that they’re not met with any resistance from some Republicans calling kids “ripe” and “fertile.”

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