Thursday :: Aug 4, 2005

Puppy Love Takes Precedence In Kansas Over Real Important Issues

by pessimist

Too young to marry?

It's a line not likely to land in the state's promotional brochure: Come to Kansas, girls, where you can get hitched at age 12. Thanks to a Falls City love affair that has raised the ire of Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, however, the marriage age could land on that state's legislative to-do list.

Despite pesticide usage sickening school kids, and EPA regulations affecting farmers' economic bottom lines, and reversion to horse-and-plow farming becoming more common because it's cheaper than using diesel machines, the Kansas Legislature is going to drop everything on its agenda and rush to repair their moral standing in the eyes of Jesusland. Over-crowded Kansas jails can wait! Bring on the Chastity Belt Act!

Matthew Koso rests on the pregnant belly of his 14-year-old wife, Crystal Koso.
(Krista Niles)

"We probably ought to discuss it," said one Kansas lawmaker, Rep. John Faber. He represents five counties in northwest Kansas that border Nebraska. [PDF] "Some laws just don't make any sense."

Considering some of the other issues which are more likely to affect the good citizens of Kansas and Nebraska, this whole situation doesn't make any sense for all the attention it's getting while more important issues barely get a glance!

The [law] in question came to light last week when Bruning announced he filed a rape charge against a 22-year-old Falls City man who married his pregnant, 14-year-old girlfriend. They didn't tie the knot in their home state, because the law wouldn't allow it. The minimum marriage age in Nebraska, with parental consent, is 17. Not so in Kansas, where the couple married in May. In the sunflower state, the bar is set at 12 years old, with parental consent; boys have to wait until they're 14.

Asked to pick what he thought was a reasonable age fellow Kansas lawmakers should consider, Faber said 16. "That's a lifetime away from 12 years old."

"I didn't realize it was that young," said another Kansas lawmaker, Rep. Sharon Schwartz. She has two border counties, Marshall and Washington, in her northeast Kansas district. [PDF] "I'd probably be supportive" of raising the age, she added.

Should Kansas raise the marriage-age limit, it would be more in line with other states.

They could add it to the Kansas Marriage Amendment! That'll stop those horny and un-parentally-supervised teenagers!

According to information compiled by the Cornell University Legal Information Institute, only one other state, Massachusetts, has a minimum age of 12 for girls, with parental consent. No state has a minimum below 12 years. The most common minimum age with parental consent is 16, putting Nebraska's law close to par with other states, and most of its neighbors. The border states of Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado have 16 as the minimum age, with parental consent.

But as a Kansas official points out, this isn't a hunka-hunka-burning love issue in their state:

Not a lot of pre-pubescent girls have taken advantage of the lenient Kansas law in recent years. In 2003, the most recent year for which data is available, just five girls younger than 15 got married in Kansas, according to Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There were three in 2002.

Lest someone think that I'm taking this lightly, I am the father of a 15 year old daughter. I have to wonder just what the parents were thinking allowing their under-age daughter to get involved with an older man. I know that I would be much more of my daughter's activities (as I indeed am, thank you very much!) than they appear to have been.

But on the other hand, to paraphrase our Secretary of Illegal Invasion, you go with the pregnant daughter you have when she needs to get married, not the virginal one you wish you had. And the man in question didn't dodge his responsibilities by running off, as many of us personally are aware of someone who did take off. In a sense, the couple are making the best of the sitation they created. I really wish them luck, for they are going to need it.

Almost as much as the two states they riled up with their affair will, since they have no sense of proportion concerning importance.

A lot of commentary here.

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