Wyoming GOP Email Suggests Opposition to Amendment Ending Underage Marriage
Written by Andrew-Rossi on February 9, 2023
The Wyoming Republican Party is taking no stance – but is directing people to the opinion that House Bill 0007 is “concerning” and erodes the martial rights of Wyomingites – underage or otherwise.
Since its introduction, House Bill 0007 – sponsored by Dan Zwonitzer of House District 43 – has been controversial for the 67th Wyoming Legislature. An initial misunderstanding had people believing the amendment raising the minimum age for legal marriage was actually lowering it.
Now, the Wyoming Republican Party is suggesting it’s in the state’s best interest for the bill to fail. In an “Action Alert” email sent to the Wyoming GOP mailing list, the party suggests readers “study the information and share your thoughts with your legislators.”
“On its face,” the Feb. 8 email reads, “this bill may seem harmless but there are concerns about constitutional rights that you need to form your own opinions about.”
The Wyoming GOP refers members to a “succinct analysis” on a blog post written for the Capitol Watch for Wyoming Families blog. In the post, concerned residents are specifically asked to contact the Senate Corporations Committee and vote “no” on the bill.
Ironically, one of the primary arguments presented against House Bill 0007 is family values – essentially saying that a vote for this bill is a vote against the institution of marriage and the rights of Wyomingites.
The most concerning part of House Bill 0007 may be the current language which reads that – if passed – “marriages contracted in Wyoming are void without any decree of divorce:… When either party is under sixteen (16) years of age at the time of contracting the marriage.” This, in theory, could void all marriages where either party was younger than 16, no matter when the marriage occurred or how long it has lasted.
However, Capitol Watch for Wyoming Families doesn’t seem particularly concerned about this part of the bill. The blog post reads, “since young men and women may be physically capable of begetting and bearing children prior to the age of 16, marriage MUST remain open to them for the sake of those children. ”
Three reasons to oppose House Bill 0007 are presented in the post:
Denial of the fundamental purpose of marriage
- “Marriage is the only institution in Wyoming Statute designed to keep a child’s father and mother living under the same roof and cooperating in the raising of any children that they, together, conceive. This is the NATURAL RIGHT of every child. As such, it is protected in the Wyoming Constitution (see. Art. 1, Sec. 3 and 23). Since young men and women may be physically capable of begetting and bearing children prior to the age of 16, marriage MUST remain open to them for the sake of those children.”
Denial of parent rights
- “Parents, by virtue of their right to conceive children, have the pre-political (i.e. God-given) responsibility to raise their own children. This right and responsibility include guiding their own maturing children into the estate of Holy Matrimony. HB 7 strips parents of their right to consent to properly desired and well-ordered marriages when they are below an arbitrary age. Moreover, this arbitrary age limit is demonstrably lower than the historical norm of millennia of human existence.”
Violation of the right of Wyoming citizens to marry
- “Only a generation ago, people were regularly ready for marriage by the age of 15, not 16, and still today many Wyoming couples are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary after having been married prior to 15. In Windsor and Obergefell, the Supreme Court of the United States asserted a “right to marry” beyond all reason and logic. Now HB 7, contrary to all reason and logic, would strip away that right from people who actually have a legitimate reason to marry, and who desire to give their child a stable and loving home. This is unjust both to child and parents.”
The blog also claims that underage marriage is a direct result of “our modern educational system.”
“The sad fact that physical maturity may not be matched by emotional and intellectual maturity is an indictment of our modern educational system. That is a problem that should be addressed. But we should not use it as an excuse to instantiate bad law,” the post reads.
However, petitioning the Senate Corporations Committee would be useless at this point. House Bill 0007 passed in a 4-0-1 vote on Thursday.
The Wyoming GOP isn’t encouraging any action or making any statement. However, given its encouragement to read and follow the Capitol Watch for Wyoming Families blog, it suggests this could the party’s official stance on House Bill 0007.
The “Action Alert” email wasn’t sent until after House Bill 0007 made it out of the Senate Corporations Committee.
House Bill 0007 passed in the Wyoming House of Representatives on Jan. 20 in a 36-25-1 vote. A floor vote in the Wyoming Senate has yet to be scheduled.