Kentucky bill to outlaw child marriage stalled by conservative lobbying

In 2018, Kentucky lawmakers are finding it difficult to pass a bill to outlaw child marriages.

State Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) introduced Senate Bill 48 after she learned that Kentucky has the third-highest rate of child marriage in the country, just below Texas and Florida, according to Insider Louisville. From 2000 to 2015, more than 10,000 children were married in Kentucky, according to the Tahirih Justice Center

Donna Pollard, a leading advocate for the bill, told the Courier-Journal that she was married at 16 to an older man who had sexually abused her since she was just 14. She said she was encouraged to marry by her mother, who had been wed at just 13 years old herself.

She described her former husband as a “perpetrator” who regularly abused her.

“I felt just completely and totally trapped,” said Pollard, who is now divorced.

RELATED: States by child marriages, 2000-2010

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States by child marriages, 2000-2010
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States by child marriages, 2000-2010

New Hampshire

Minors who married: 156

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Delaware

Minors who married: 200

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Vermont

Minors who married: 207

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South Dakota

Minors who married: 231

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Montana

Minors who married: 405

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Hawaii

Minors who married: 622

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South Dakota

Minors who married: 647

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Alaska

Minors who married: 654

(Photo via Getty Images)

Nebraska

Minors who married: 956

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Connecticut

Minors who married: 982

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Wyoming

Minors who married: 1,030

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Massachusetts

Minors who married: 1,050

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Iowa

Minors who married: 1,081

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New Jersey

Minors who married: 1,831

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Wisconsin

Minors who married: 2,488

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Kansas

Minors who married: 2,503

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Maryland

Minors who married: 2,677

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West Virginia

Minors who married: 2,759

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Oregon

Minors who married: 2,780

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Washington

Minors who married: 3,336

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New York

Minors who married: 3,850

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Idaho

Minors who married: 4,083

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Colorado

Minors who married: 4,154

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Ohio

Minors who married: 4,177

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Mississippi

Minors who married: 4,240

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Michigan

Minors who married: 4,245

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Utah

Minors who married: 4,386

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South Carolina

Minors who married: 4,501

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Louisiana

Minors who married: 4,532

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Missouri

Minors who married: 6,262

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Illinois

Minors who married: 6,328

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Virginia

Minors who married: 6,775

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Arkansas

Minors who married: 7,019

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Tennessee

Minors who married: 7,670

(Photo via Getty Images)

Alabama

Minors who married: 7,688

(Photo via Getty Images)

Kentucky

Minors who married: 11,657

(Photo via Getty Images)

Florida

Minors who married: 14,278

(Photo via Getty Images)

Texas

Minors who married: 34,793

(Photo via Getty Images)

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The so-called “child bride” legislation would ban marriage for anyone under age 17 and require judicial approval for a 17-year-old to wed. Under current law, 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with parental permission, and children can marry even younger when there’s a pregnancy involved, Insider Louisville explains.

Passage of the bill would seem easy enough. But late Wednesday, Adams tweeted that a vote on the legislation had been stalled. She told Insider Louisville that the Family Foundation of Kentucky, a conservative group that lobbies on social issues, had put a stop to it.

Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, also expressed her disgust.

“This is legalized rape of children,” Recktenwald told the Courier-Journal. “We cannot allow that to continue in Kentucky, and I cannot believe we are even debating this in the year 2018 in the United States.”

The Family Foundation of Kentucky argued that the bill “diminishes parental rights,” Insider Louisville reported.

“It takes away parental rights, in terms of parental consent, and gives it to the court,” foundation spokesman Martin Cothran told the news outlet. “So we have a big concern about that.”

Adams said she and other lawmakers are now working on a compromise bill. Cothran said concerns about the legislation should be “easily resolved.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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