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From the Southern voice:
Marriage loophole under fire
Letting children marry ‘grossly inconsistent’ in light of gay marriage ban, Drenner says
By DYANA BAGBY
Friday, December 02, 2005
Georgia Republican lawmakers show hypocrisy on family values by hesitating to eliminate a loophole in the state’s marriage law that allows a child to get married without parental consent if the bride is pregnant, the only openly gay member of the General Assembly charged.
State law sets the legal age for marriage at 16. Those under 16 can marry only with parental permission, except “upon proof of pregnancy on the part of the female or in instances in which both applicants are the parents of a living child born out of wedlock, in which case the parties may contract marriage regardless of age.”
State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) said she plans to introduce legislation requiring parental consent for marriages of people under the age of 18. The measure has been drafted and will be introduced during the next state legislative session, which begins Jan. 9, Drenner said.
The current law made national headlines after Lisa Lynnette Clark, 37, married the 15-year-old father of her unborn child on Nov. 8, just one day before being arrested in Gainesville and charged with child molestation. Clark allegedly had a two-year sexual relationship with the teen, a friend of her son.
Clark reportedly married the teen in the driveway of a retired judge after getting a marriage license in Dawsonville.
A Hall County grand jury indicted Clark Tuesday on charges of child molestation, statutory rape and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
The Republican majority’s strong stance to protect the “sanctity of marriage” by pushing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004, while at the same time keeping a law on the books allowing children to marry if the girl is pregnant to dissuade unwed motherhood, is complete hypocrisy, Drenner charged.
And their apparent unwillingness to tackle the issue head on is “laughable,” she said.
During the debate over the gay marriage ban, known as Amendment One, “I had to listen ad nauseam to how same-sex marriage is wrecking the institution of marriage,” Drenner said.
“How can you allow an 11 or 12-year-old to get married and protect the sanctity of marriage? It seems there is a gross inconsistency with the whole marriage issue. I find this laughable,” she said.
During many floor debates about Amendment One, Republican lawmakers invoked religion and the desire to protect children in supporting the same-sex marriage ban.
“I believe this nation was built on family,” state Sen. Mike Crotts (R-Conyers), the amendment’s lead sponsor, said in February 2004. “I believe family is the foundation of the country, and marriage is the foundation of the family — it’s the guidepost, the guardrail, that keeps us on the right path.”
At a Christian Coalition rally the same month, state Rep. Roger Hines (R-Kennesaw) said that protecting children helped fuel his support for the anti-gay marriage amendment.
“If we social conservatives lose this battle, we will lose the war,” Hines said. “The one that wins this battle wins the children.”
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