Tennessee marriage bill with no age limit sparks backlash over concerns about child brides

A gay pride flag flies during a festival in June 2015 at Public Square Park in downtown Nashville.

TO Tennessee bill to exclude same-sex couples of a proposed legal marriage contract process sparked widespread backlash after the sponsors initially did not include a minimum age limit in the legislation, although the sponsors did introduce amendments to address the issue.

widespread public The protest spread Tuesday over child welfare concerns, with critics saying a path to marriage with no minimum age limits loosens the guardrails to protect minors from predatory behavior and abuse.

The bill would create an alternative path to marriage, allowing opposite-sex couples to enter marriage “contracts,” based on common law principles that have not yet been legally recognized in Tennessee. Contracts would not be available to same-sex couples.

The legislation’s sponsors now added amendments specifying that a man and woman seeking the contract must have “attained the age of majority,” which is 18 in Tennessee.