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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/16/2010

Child marriage is still an easy vote

By Conor Williams

Almost no one noticed, but last night, the House took up S. 987, The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010. For many, this is an easy issue to forget. Child brides across the world have no lobby to maintain congressional and media attention. Neither party made the American international development agenda central to their electoral strategy in 2010. We have more than enough crises to occupy our attention here at home.

For others (myself included), it's an issue that can't be ignored. Last night during House debate, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) explained what's at stake:

Globally, more than 60 million girls under the age of 18, many only 12 or 13, are married, usually to men more than twice or three times their age. Between one half and three-fourths of all girls are married before the age of 18 in countries such as Chad, Mali, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) noted that the bill appropriates no new funds and thus does not affect the federal deficit as it is currently structured.

In its current form, S. 987 simply makes child development a key priority within the existing U.S. international development agenda. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill could cost $67 million over five years, only if Congress appropriates this money later. But Republicans, led on the floor last night by Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind.), are trying to block the bill's passage on the grounds that "the bill does not reflect current fiscal realities." 

This is a pretty cynical position to take, given that the bill doesn't actually appropriate any new funds. It's also worth noting that the potential appropriations that the bill might get later are minuscule in comparison to most budgetary items. How can Republicans explain efforts to defeat a human rights bill because of $67 million in potential spending while simultaneously pushing for a tax cut deal for wealthy Americans that will add $858 billion to the deficit? Is this at all credible? Remember that the Senate unanimously passed the bill.

Thefinal vote is scheduled for today. Last word goes to Rep. McCollum: "It doesn't matter where in the world an eleven-year-old girl is: She should never be anyone's wife."

By Conor Williams  | December 16, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Williams  | Tags:  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Child Marriage, Congress, Mary Robinson, United States  
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So Republicans are for Child Marriage, I am not surprised. The idea that they are not voting for the bill because it is unfunded is silly Congress passes these feel good bills all the time, and very rarely puts any money behind their words.
Republicans just do not want to upset their masters in the Religious Right Domestically and in Saudi Arabai.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | December 16, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Children in the US can marry as young as 14 with parental approval. I hope you're not attempting to apply harsher standard to the rest of the world.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | December 16, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

This looks suspiciously like a "feel good" piece of legislation that will not actually accomplish anything even if passed. What does "make a priority" mean?

Posted by: dataflunky | December 16, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Mr. Burton is afraid of upsetting the Fundementalist Mormans in Northern Arizona. They take 12 year old child brides.

Posted by: mg11231 | December 16, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The individual states have rules for this.
This is clearly in the jurisdiction of the state government.

Personally I think women should not get married until they are 30!

Most 20 something’s are totally incapable of properly caring for themselves let alone starting a family.

Realistically I think the rule should at least be 18.

But again that is a matter to take up with your state government.

If republicans stopped a bill that would prevent child marriage;
That means there was a lot of earmarks, pork and ridiculous unrelated superfluous hooey hidden in the Bill.

Every bill should have to be read out loud in public on national TV a week before the vote. Then they would not put so much BS in them.

Posted by: rexreddy | December 16, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@rexreddy: This bill has nothing to do with individual states or any local jurisdiction: as noted in the story, "In its current form, S. 987 simply makes child development a key priority within the existing U.S. international development agenda."

Posted by: AlfromAlexandria | December 16, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

All countries listed are Muslim. Except Nepal, just to throw you off.
Islamic people say they respect women but the truth is they dont.

Posted by: action1 | December 16, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Even if I concede Conor Williams point that this bill will not cost us money,which I highly doubt, I ask how does this effect the USA? In the US, we have laws against this type of thing. I agree that these young girls shouldn't be promised to an older man for marriage, but that's the world that they live in. Now if we want to go over to those countries and try and change their entire system, which apparently the left opposes anyways ie Afghanistan and Iraq, then there is nothing for us to do. It's terrible, but it's a cultural thing over there and unfortunately has been happening forever. Personally, I am tired of worrying about other countries. We need to concentrate more on ours.

Posted by: Jsuf | December 16, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Don't be fooled!

This bill is irrelevant, and this story was printed only to vilify Republicans.

The author is inferring that Republicans are pedophiles.


Posted by: El00mn8r | December 16, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, I think the Repuglicans who are planning to vote against the bill took care of that inference for themselves.

Posted by: GomerGross | December 16, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"The author is inferring that Republicans are pedophiles."

No, YOU are inferring this. The author is not implying it. He is simply saying that some Republicans' deficit hawkishness is too extreme and lacks perspective.

Posted by: j762 | December 16, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Child marriage for the purposes of this legislation is when a child who is below the legal age to marry is married.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 16, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Child marriage for the purposes of this legislation is when a child who is below the legal age to marry is married.

If it is legal for a person of 12 years to marry a 24 or 36 year-old, then that is not child marriage. If the person is 11 and the other spouse is 15 and the legal age for marrying is 12, then that is child marriage.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 16, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Some of us still believe America can and should be good as well as great. We wield enormous influence in some parts of the world (not so much in others, these days!) It took a long time for American policies to condemn female genital mutilation, but now we do, and our aid workers constantly nudge governments in the direction of changing tribal customs BECAUSE THEY ARE WRONG. (And these customs almost always impact women and girls.) We ought to celebrate when our government does the right thing. Republicans who claim the "family values" mantle sure do reveal themselves as hypocrites - but there's nothing new there!

Posted by: Bajagirl | December 17, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, Well, Well
They don't want children to marry
Yet they force all this garbage on
them from K-12 th grade
Also google Boston Children's Hospital Sex Change Clinic
Also Dr. Money The boy with no P.E.N.I.S.
Also Dawn Stefanowicz Out from Under
Also Planned Parenthood as this organization goes into the public schools and gives young girls low dose birth control pills so they will become pregnant
Then they take them for an abortion, many times without the parents permission

Well of course they don't want the children to get married, they have already robbed the children of thier innocents, their self esteem and dignity.
These politician will legislate any piece of Crap bills so long as they can fill their bank accounts and retirement funds
with the proceeds.

Posted by: boski66 | December 17, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Also google The Trans-gendered Custodian
in Oxford, Mass. elementry school

He was married and divorced, his kid's attended the school and he is part woman up top and part man down below

who is protecting and respecting children
oh yhea- they can't marry
Nice to see they care!

Posted by: boski66 | December 17, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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