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Bill to restrict child marriages in Wyoming defeated in the House
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Bill to restrict child marriages in Wyoming defeated in the House

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House of Representatives

Members of the House of Representatives find their seats Tuesday at the Wyoming Capitol. The House voted Wednesday to reject a ban on child marriages. 

CHEYENNE — For the second straight year, the Wyoming House of Representatives voted down a bill to restrict child marriages in Wyoming, even after the addition of several provisions intended to loosen the bill.

The final vote was 31-28.

Reps. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance; David Miller, R-Riverton; Jim Blackburn, R-Cheyenne; Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne; and Cyrus Western, R-Sheridan; all changed their votes from “aye” to “no” before the final tally was counted.

Sponsored by Rep. Charles Pelkey, D-Laramie, House Bill 67 was a lighter version of a bill introduced in the Wyoming House of Representatives last year, which would have imposed a hard-line ban on all marriages involving individuals under the age of 18.

That bill failed on its final reading in the House of Representatives by a five-vote margin, with three members absent.

This year’s bill was lighter, however, allowing marriages for emancipated minors, while setting a bottom floor for marriage that previously did not exist if a child had a parent’s permission to be married.

“I can see there may be instances where an emancipated minor could be able to make a decision for themselves,” Pelkey said Wednesday.

Others, however, saw the legislation as removing a parent from the conversation.

“This would allow a government decision to make this (choice) for a minor,” said Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan. “Let the parents decide that for themselves.”

Pelkey, however, rebutted that argument only made sense if they considered children property, and did not trust a minor to make an independent decision.

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Politics Reporter

Nick Reynolds covers state politics and policy. A native of Central New York, he has spent his career covering governments big and small, and several Congressional campaigns. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport in 2015.

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