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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
10:27 AM Thu, Dec. 13th

Editorial: Don’t change the minimum age on marriage in Arizona

The greatest poets and musicians in history have tried to unravel the mysteries of love for centuries. The mere fact this age’s best continue to try should tell us how futile their efforts have been.

Now, a Scottsdale legislator wants to change the age restriction on when someone can get married in Arizona.

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita wants to make it illegal to grant a marriage license to anyone younger than 18 in Arizona. Current law allows anyone who is 16 or 17 to marry, if they have the permission of a parent.

We understand the logic behind the proposal and, in general, think it is better to wait to tie the knot, but experience has taught us love is rarely logical. We do not support this proposal.

We can think of three reasons someone younger than 18 may want to marry and not wait:

1 - What if the couple’s faith requires that they abstain from sexual relations until marriage, but their hormones are pushing them in another direction and waiting a year or two is not going to happen? If abstinence until marriage is important to them, who would deny them that?

2 - What if they did not wait, and the woman is pregnant? What if it is important to them that when the baby is born the mother and father are legally married?

3 - The third is more practical, if Arizona makes it illegal to wed when one or both are younger than 18, all they would have to do is travel to a different state that allows it. Doing so would be an inconvenience, and could make it harder for friends and family to attend, but no law is going to stop love.

When is the right time to marry? We know of couples that were married at a very young age and are still going strong. Many of them appear on our Celebrations page, marking their 60th, 65th, or 70th wedding anniversaries.

Others who marry later in life after a long engagement have marriages that fall apart quickly and are soon asking for a divorce.

Trying to apply rules to love seems as futile an effort as all those silly little love songs.

Most people would be better waiting, seeking the counsel of friends, family, and clergy. Make sure they go into marriage truly knowing their partner and understanding the commitment needed to make a marriage work.

A lawmaker in Scottsdale is not going to be able to write a law that fits all young relationships.

The current law, where a parent who fully understands the situation and can meet with both couples and ensure they know what they are getting into is a better judge.

Some marriages of very young people will fall apart, but that also happens to older people who marry. If two people want to make that commitment to each other and declare their love, the law should not stand in the way.

The current law works. It shouldn’t be changed.

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