During debate Tuesday on a bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, Missouri State Senator Mike Moon suggested children as young as 12 should have the right to marry with parental permission.
"Do you know any kids who have been married at age 12? I do. And guess what? They're still married," Moon said in response to questioning by Democratic state Representative Peter Merideth. A clip of the interaction has garnered attention on social media.
— Aaron Crossley (@aaroncrossley) April 12, 2023
A southwest Missouri Republican from Ash Grove, Moon's support of child marriage in some instances has been long documented. In 2018 Missouri passed a law raising the marriage age in the state from 15 to 16 and requiring parental permission for older teenagers to marry. Moon opposed the bill at the time — citing the same anecdote of a couple he met in college who had married one another at age 12.
He said they were still happily married and acknowledged that while they provided an extreme example, they were "something to ponder."
Moon's support of the practice resurfaced during a committee hearing on a bill introduced by Moon that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender children. If passed the bill would ban health care providers from performing gender-affirming surgeries on any minor or from prescribing or administering cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs to a minor for a gender transition, unless such minor was receiving such treatment prior to August 28, 2023.
In debate on the bill, Rep. Merideth cited Moon's stance on child marriage as inconsistent with his aim of protecting children through his bill banning transgender care for minors.
"I've heard you talk about parents' rights to raise their kids how they want. In fact, I just double checked. You voted no on making it illegal for kids to be married to adults at the age of 12. If their parents consented to it, you said actually, that should be the law because it's the parents right and the kids right to decide what's best for them. To be raped by an adult," Merideth said.
In response Moon said that he knows someone married at 12 and "they are still married."
The Senator did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the News-Leader, but defended his comments on Twitter and noted the couple he referenced was not an adult and child but two children who married after becoming pregnant.
"Something that is often missing is the back story. With regard to my answer, I did not discuss the details: a 12 year old impregnated a minor of similar age. With consent of the parents, they married and are still married today..." Moon wrote. "Her parents consented — no force. Their marriage is thriving."
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Sen. Mike Moon reiterates support for 12-year-old's right to marry