Lawmaker Defends Child Marriage With Story of 12-Year-Olds

Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon cites preteen wedding after being attacked for his anti-trans bill
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2023 7:10 AM CDT
Lawmaker Defends Child Marriage With Story of 12-Year-Olds
Republican Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon speaks in his Capitol office on Feb. 1, 2022, in Jefferson City, Mo.   (AP Photo/David A. Lieb, File)

Missouri State Sen. Mike Moon says his aim in sponsoring a bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors is to protect children—which a colleague attacked him for based on Moon's vote against a 2018 bill that put restrictions on child marriage. "You voted 'no' on making it illegal for kids to be married to adults at the age of 12," State Rep. Peter Merideth, a Democrat, told the Republican during a debate on the transgender healthcare bill Tuesday. "You said actually, that ... it's the parents' right and the kids' right to decide what's best for them. To be raped by an adult." Footage of the debate later went viral, largely due to Moon's response. "Do you know any kids who have been married at age 12? I do. And guess what? They're still married," Moon said, per the Springfield News Leader.

On Thursday, after the footage was viewed millions of times on Twitter, Moon clarified that "I do not support adults marrying minors" and will "make it a priority to remove and prohibit adults from marrying minors" if that occurs. Moon—who'd voted against a bill to raise the state's minimum marriage age with parental consent from 15 to 16—then reiterated his support for children marrying children. He referred again to the man and woman who married as 12-year-olds—the News Leader describes them as "his college friends"—suggesting their decision to wed with parental consent before continuing to live separately for years helped them overcome "tragic circumstances," per the Daily Beast.

In an earlier tweet, he'd explained "a 12-year-old impregnated a minor of similar age." There was "no force" and today "their marriage is thriving," Moon wrote, per Insider. Moon's transgender healthcare bill—which would ban gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy for minors, unless already prescribed—passed the Senate last month. It also cleared the House General Laws Committee on Thursday, the same day the House passed even stricter legislation banning all gender transition surgeries, hormone therapy, and puberty blockers for minors without exception, per the Kansas City Star. "It's unclear whether the Senate will take up the bill" or if the House will "take up the Senate's version," the outlet notes. (More Missouri stories.)

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