LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas’ marriage-age crisis is over.
A law that mistakenly allowed anyone even toddlers â€” to marry with parental permission was repealed by a measure signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Mike Beebe, ending months of embarrassment for the state and confusion for county clerks.
Lawmakers didn’t realize until after the end of last year’s regular session that a law they approved, intended to establish 18 as the minimum age for marriage, instead removed the minimum age to marry entirely. An extraneous “not” in the bill allowed anyone who was not pregnant to marry at any age with permission.
The bill read: “In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage.”
Some lawmakers called for a special session last year, saying the error would make it easy for pedophiles to take advantage of the law. Gov. Mike Beebe said he didn’t see any imminent crisis and said the chances of children marrying under the law were slim.