Legislature will Debate Underage Marriage
The 65th Wyoming Legislature convenes Tuesday, Jan. 8, at noon, and already more than 130 pieces of legislation have been drafted.
House Bill 60 would amend Wyoming State Statute 20-1-102, which deals with the “minimum marriageable age” in the state.
As currently written, the law prohibits a person under the age of 16 from being issued a marriage license.
Representative Charles Pelkey (D-Albany) drafted the bill with bipartisan support from cosponsors Rep. Eric Barlow (R-Campbell, Converse), Rep. Jim Blackburn (R-Laramie), Cathy Connolly (D-Albany), John Freeman (D-Sweetwater), Dan Zwonitzer (R-Laramie), and Sens. Cale Case (R-Fremont) and Chris Rothfuss (D-Albany).
According to a Cornell Law School study, only Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia have legislation prohibiting marriage for those under 18.
Barlow said although the bill makes sense, it’s not high on the priority list for the upcoming session.
“The theory is, you can’t do anything else before you’re 18,” Barlow explained, “and so why would we make contractual obligations something that we would allow?”
If passed, the bill would change the minimum age from 16 to 18.
Some states even have a waiting period for couples obtaining a marriage license. However, the country appears to be split on the issue, with 24 states instituting various waiting periods.
Wyoming, along with Nevada, are among states not requiring any waiting period prior to obtaining a marriage license.
The two states are polar opposites. In 2017, Nevada issued roughly 74,500 marriage licenses while Wyoming issued only 4,133.