In case you've been reading my stuff from the beginning, you may remember that my very first post was on the FLDS church members having their "compound" (more like a commune, but "compound" makes them sound more like the Branch Davidians) raided by the Texas CPS...and how the Sheriff's Dept brought out a tank nicknamed "Bubba" to help them kidnap more than 400 women and children.
Tonight, I'm reading in the Houston Comical (er, "Chronicle", whatever) and I see where an FLDS member has just been sentenced to 20 years in prison for "sexual abuse of a child"...who happened to be his 15 year old wife.
Now, before this conversation goes any further, I would like to once again reiterate for the record that I do not endorse or condone child molestation, polygamy, running stop signs, or any other random crap the state claims this man did. I'm merely making a point here.
That being said, let's look at this situation once again. It was not until after the FLDS moved to Texas, that the Great State of Texas decided to introduce and pass legislation making it a crime to marry a person under the age of 16. Prior to this, the statute read that a person must be 14 years of age, in order to be married. This actually happened in 2005. No bullshit, a 14 year old could legally be married in Texas during Bubba Dubbya's first four years!
Now, let's examine the notion of "consent". It's a really funny thing, what the government considers the lawful age of consent to be, and I find it strange that it sets random arbitrary age limits on what an adult is or is not allowed to do.
For instance, a person can lawfully consent to marriage at the age of 16...but can't buy a pack of cigarettes. At the age of 18, a person can lawfully consent to purchase of cigarettes, lottery tickets, et cetera and can also enter into legally-binding contracts...including a contract binding him or her into military service, where he might lose his life on the battlefield. Ironically, this same government that claims you're "mature enough" to kill and be killed for political purposes also happens to be the same government that says you're not "mature enough" to decide that you want to drink a cold beer after a long hard day of work until another three years!
Now, let's examine the text of the laws amended in 2005 by the state legislature here in Texas. Upon reading it, it almost appears as if these literally HUNDREDS of changes to the law were made specifically criminalize the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and say that both the 20 year old groom and his 15 year old bride were both consenting parties to this "marriage"...and I'm also going to assume that, if one or both parents were members of the FLDS church, then "parental consent" was given. According to Texas law, "parental consent" requires the signature of only one parent, but I'm assuming it must be the custodial parent in case of divorced or otherwise separated parents...but, again I'm assuming here, if the kid is on the "compound" with one parent, it would be the custodial parent.
So, here we are, faced with two very interesting issues once again.
A) Was the "age of consent" law governing state-sanctioned marriages changed solely upon the religious and cultural beliefs of a group of people who moved to Texas in 2003, or was it because the Great State of Texas had a massive change of heart and all of a sudden decided that 14 was just too young to make up your mind...but 16 was old enough?
B) Does the state have an inherent right to limit how many marriage contracts a person may lawfully consent to enter? I'm asking because the article in question states that a man was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for "sexual assault of a child" that he had chosen to be his wife. While the "child" in question was a minor aged 15, he would still be prosecuted for the same offense if this "child" was a minor aged 16...provided he had already legally married another minor "child" aged 16. The state says that you can marry one 16 year old girl, if her mom signs the permission slip. The state says that if you marry one, you're a lawfully-wedded man...but if you do it twice, you're a child molester.
So does the state have the authority to make such decisions for us? Does it have an inherent right to declare how many people we may consensually enter into contracts with? Does the state have a right to declare how and under what circumstances a parent may provide parental consent for a minor?