Republican Lawmaker Says 12 Is Not Too Young to Get Married

In an argument against trans youth, Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon said he knows people "who have been married at age 12" and "they're still married."

Republican Lawmaker Says 12 Is Not Too Young to Get Married
Photo:David A. Lieb (AP)

Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon (R)—the same state lawmaker who beheaded a chicken on Facebook Live to make an in comprehensible point against abortion—is, apparently, back on his terrifying, right-wing bullshit. During a Tuesday senate debate on a bill to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, Moon appeared to come out in support of legal child marriage for children as young as 12.

His comments were prompted by a Democratic colleague who said that if Moon actually wants to protect children (his argument for opposing gender-affirming health care), he should oppose child marriage: “You voted no to make it illegal for kids to marry adults at the age of 12 if their parents consent,” state Rep. Peter Merideth (D) said. “You said, actually, that should be the law because it’s the parent’s right and the kid’s right to decide what’s best for them, to be raped by an adult.”

“Do you know any kids who have been married at age 12?” Moon asked in response.

Merideth, a normal person, said: “I don’t need to.”

“Well, I do,” Moon said. “And guess what? They’re still married.”

This is not Moon’s first time defending child marriage and citing these unnamed people who got married at age 12. Moon expressed support for child marriage in 2018 when he opposed a bill that would raise the marriage age in Missouri from 15 to 16 and would require parental consent for older teens to marry. At the time, he cited a couple he claims to have met in college who married one another at age 12, and called their situation “something to ponder.”

Moon’s support for child marriage co-exists with his party’s constant anti-LGBTQ fear-mongering that baselessly frames queer and trans adults as predatory “groomers.” Yet Moon’s pro-child marriage comments this week (a stance that firmly aligns with the concept of “grooming,” in my opinion) notably stemmed from being called out on his anti-trans politics. Comically hypocritical as all of this may be, it’s not a coincidence: The far right has long relied on misdirected pedophilia accusations at LGBTQ people, while supporting child marriage and abortion bans as a tool to police and control girls and violently impose the patriarchy on them.

On Wednesday, shortly after his latest round of pro-child marriage comments went viral online, Moon unsuccessfully tried to clarify his comments on Twitter. “Something that is often missing is the back story. With regard to my answer, I did not discuss the details: a 12 year old impregnated a minor of similar age. With consent of the parents, they married… and are still married today,” he wrote. In a follow-up tweet that really didn’t do what he think it did, he said, “Her parents consented – no force. Their marriage is thriving.”

That distinction, of course, isn’t as important as Moon seems to think it is. Child marriage is still child marriage. And it’s neither healthy nor safe for a 12-year-old to be pregnant, likely forced to remain pregnant by their parents, and then forced or pressured by them to be married as well.

Moon—who’s compared abortion to the Holocaust and slavery—isn’t exactly famous for his reasonable politics, so it would be easy to chalk his latest comments up to his absurd beliefs. But in reality, child marriage and forced birth imposed on children aren’t as outside of the conservative mainstream as you might think. Moon is just one very obnoxious, unabashed mouthpiece for the scary, broad arm of the evangelical wing of the Republican Party.

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