Bill raising Indiana marriage age stalls

Photo Supplied / Indiana Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana): A bill clamping down on teenage marriage in Indiana is in limbo after a missed deadline to bring it to the House floor.

Indiana allows you to marry as young as 15, but advocates for victims of sexual assault say pedophiles have used that law as a get-out-of-jail-free card. But a bill raising the age to 17 wasn’t called to the floor, because of a proposed amendment to repeal Indiana’s now-obsolete ban on same-sex marriage.

House Speaker Brian Bosma calls it a “political” amendment, designed to spark an ugly fight on the House floor. He says he’ll look for another home for the marriage-at-17 language.

Thursday was the last step to call bills for amendments in the House, a required step before a final vote. That means the bill is dead for the year. Bosma says he’ll look for a bill on similar subject matter to add the marriage-at-17 language.

Bosma contends he got mixed signals about whether Democrats planned to call their amendment to the floor. Bloomington Democrat Matt Pierce is just as adamant he made clear he wouldn’t call it. He says supporters of the original bill asked him not to, for fear it would cause exactly what ended up happening.

Pierce went to the front of the House chamber for a quick sidebar with Bosma when it became clear the House would adjourn without considering the bill. He says Bosma repeated he’d received unclear signals and said it was too late to call the bill.

The bill passed a House committee 9-1, with several women testifying they’d been pressured as teenagers into marrying men who were already abusing them. Georgetown Republican Karen Engleman’s bill would prohibit 17-year-olds from marrying anyone over 21 and would require a private conference with a judge, away from potential intimidation.

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