COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — It might not become law in 2021, but some South Carolina lawmakers want to pass a bill that would raise the marriage age from 16 to 18.
S.591 is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was on the agenda Tuesday afternoon, but the panel of lawmakers did not get to it before adjourning.
With just five legislative days left in the session — it’s very unlikely it will become law this year.
Back in 2019, South Carolina lawmakers closed a loophole that allowed girls as young as 12 years old to get married. In the 20 years before that law was changed, 5,000 girls under the age of 18 wedded.
“We don’t even let people take a drink until they’re 21, and we’re letting them get married at 16. It just doesn’t make sense,” said Sen. Brad Hutto (D-District 40), the state Senate minority leader and one of the bill’s sponsors.
Lawmakers said teens that get married usually decide to after getting pregnant. Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-District 23) said data shows they’re less likely to go back to school and could end up living in poverty.
“There’s more divorce, more poverty, more people living in difficult situations, more domestic violence,” Shealy said. “All these things happen because people get married at a young age and don’t consider the consequences.”
Four other states have set their minimum marriage age to 18. In Georgia, couples must be at least 17 years old before they can get married.