Wyoming Republicans Oppose Bill That Would Ban Child Marriage

Wyoming Republicans are opposing a bill that would prohibit child marriage for those under 16-years-old in their state.
(image via Depositphotos)

Republican state legislators across the country have been introducing (and passing!) anti-LGBTQ bills at a rapidly increasing rate, usually under the guise of “protecting the children.”

So imagine my surprise when I read that Wyoming Republicans are opposing a bill that would prohibit child marriage for those under 16-years-old in their state.

Under current Wyoming law, 16 and 17-year-olds can get married with parental consent. Children younger than 16 can marry IF the parents of the minors agree and apply to a judge for approval.

House Bill 7 (H.B. 7) would continue to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to marry with parental consent, but would remove the judicial approval step and make it illegal for anyone younger than 16-years-old to marry.

Related: Wyoming Lawmaker Compares Being Gay To Bestiality

Wyoming Republicans recently sent out a mass email to constituents urging them to tell their lawmakers to NOT support H.B. 7 due to “concerns about constitutional rights.”

The emails include a link to an “analysis” by Capitol Watch for Wyoming Families which argues that since children under 16 can get pregnant, they should be able to get married so the newly-conceived children can grow up as a family.

Capitol Watch claims the bill “denies the fundamental purpose of marriage” by denying “a child’s father and mother [from] living under the same roof.”

State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, an out Republican lawmaker who is the sponsor of H.B. 7, called Capitol Watch’s so-called analysis “ridiculous.”

“They’re trying to attack our education system while promoting 12- and 13-year-olds can be married,” Zwonitzer told the Cowboy State Daily. “It’s not congruent and it’s not even worthy of debate in the legislative arena.”

“I think it’s audacious for the Republican Party (leadership) to suggest that as soon as you can give birth to a child you should be allowed to get married,” he continued. “There are 12- and 13-year-olds in the country who wind up with pregnancies, and we certainly don’t want them to be able to get married, in my opinion.”

The bill has already passed the Wyoming House and is now being considered in the Senate. It was unanimously passed in the first Senate committee meeting about it.

Beyond common sense, there’s a huge helping of hypocrisy in play here regarding “protecting the children,” when you consider the legislature is currently considering multiple anti-LGBTQ bills.

Two seek to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, and another would make it more difficult for trans youth to participate in sports as their lived gender. All three have already been approved by the state Senate and are presently awaiting consideration in the state House.

It’s worth noting that Tennessee Republicans tried to get rid of all age limits on marriage entirely last year until public backlash forced them to back down.

Since the beginning of 2023, there have been over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in 17 states – and it’s only February 13.