JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A bill that would raise the marriage age in Missouri from 15 to 17 years old if at least one parent has consented has passed out of committee and is expected to head to the House floor sometime next week.
House Bill 270 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Jean Evans, from St. Louis.
The bill would keep the age requirements at 18 years old for both men and women if there is no parental consent. Supporters of the bill say this will help cut down on potential sex trafficking. She said sex trafficking is an issue nationwide and has been seen in Missouri.
"Bringing more light to the problem of trafficking, in addition to protecting children in our state," Evans said. "We don't want to be a state where people say, 'Hey let's take our 15-year-old there so we can marry her off, sell her, to someone,' we don't want to be known for that."
The bill passed both committees unanimously and is expected to be put on the House calendar within a week or so according to Evans.
The bill would also eliminate a clause that allowed judges to marry a couple under the age of consent at their discretion.
"Wit that judge part in there, that mean a judge could basically marry at any age," Evans said. "There really was no minimum age. So we've eliminated the judge's discretion."
The bill would also require applicates to show proof of age like a driver's license or passport.
This bill comes more than one year after a father from Idaho drove his 14-year-old daughter and a then 24-year-old man, Aaron Seaton, who impregnated her, to Missouri to have them married. That marriage was ultimately annulled. Seaton is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for rape, and the father served 120 days in jail for felony injury to a child.