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From the Vault Again:

CHILD MARRIAGE BILL IS ANOTHER FORM OF INTERVENTION

Amid all the weighty issues as DADT and the DREAM ACT, there was a bill that was thankfully defeated in the House yesterday.  It seemed like a non-controversial issue:  Stopping child marriage abroad.  Here’s the text of the bill.   ABC got all in a dither about it.

I am glad it was defeated.  It is the spending of taxpayers money to intervene in the affairs of other nations.  Here’s my take on this bill:

The power is delegated to the President to take action with non-governmental agencies to stop child marriage:

IN GENERAL- The President is authorized to provide assistance, including through multilateral, nongovernmental, and faith-based organizations, to prevent the incidence of child marriage in developing countries through the promotion of educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of girls and women.

Many Republicans felt that abortion funding could be authorized by this.  I agree; certainly this President is not one who is trustworthy on the abortion issue.  Nor are some non-governmental agencies.  ABC quotes:

“The bill provides little structure or oversight on how the money may be spent,” the memo read. “The President is authorized under this bill to provide assistance through nongovernmental organizations that are charged with the promotion of ‘health’ of girls and women.  It is possible that some of these NGOs may view abortion as health care and promote abortion services as a part of that health care.”

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin condemned the vote:

On Thursday, Durbin’s office put out a statement sharply criticizing the House’s failure to pass the bill: “The action on the House floor stopping the Child Marriage bill tonight will endanger the lives of millions of women and girls around the world. These young girls, enslaved in marriage, will be brutalized and many will die when their young bodies are torn apart while giving birth. Those who voted to continue this barbaric practice brought shame to Capitol Hill.

A general rule of thumb for me is:  If Senator Durbin is for it, I’m against it.  However, leaving aside the legitimate potential for the misuse of the funds for abortion-related antics, the delegation of power to the executive to spend money for a cause is a blank check for meddling and intervention in the laws and customs of other nations.

This bill certainly allows nation-building (emphasis mine):

Activities Supported- Assistance authorized under subsection (a) may be made available for activities in the areas of education, health, income generation, agriculture development, legal rights, democracy building, and human rights, including–

*  *  *

(1) support for community-based activities that encourage community members to address beliefs or practices that promote child marriage and to educate parents, community leaders, religious leaders, and adolescents of the health risks associated with child marriage and the benefits for adolescents, especially girls, of access to education, health care, livelihood skills, microfinance, and savings programs;

(2) support for activities to educate girls in primary and secondary school at the appropriate age and keeping them in age-appropriate grade levels through adolescence;

(3) support for activities to reduce education fees and enhance safe and supportive conditions in primary and secondary schools to meet the needs of girls, including–

(A) access to water and suitable hygiene facilities, including separate lavatories and latrines for girls;

(B) assignment of female teachers;

(C) safe routes to and from school; and

(D) eliminating sexual harassment and other forms of violence and coercion;…

The Congress must stop meddling and intervening in other nation’s affairs.  This may not be war but it is intervention.  The preamble proves it:

(3) According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 60,000,000 girls in developing countries now ages 20 through 24 were married under the age of 18, and if present trends continue more than 100,000,000 more girls in developing countries will be married as children over the next decade, according to the Population Council.

(4) Between 1/2 and 3/4 of all girls are married before the age of 18 in Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and Nepal, according to Demographic Health Survey data.

(8) Most countries with high rates of child marriage have a legally established minimum age of marriage, yet child marriage persists due to strong traditional norms and the failure to enforce existing laws.

(11) Investments in girls’ schooling, creating safe community spaces for girls, and programs for skills building for out-of-school girls are all effective and demonstrated strategies for preventing child marriage and creating a pathway to empower girls by addressing conditions of poverty, low status, and norms that contribute to child marriage.

Is the American taxpayer going to pay for “investments” in other nations?  Our own schools need support.  Teenage girls need help in OUR nation.  There is too much sexual harassment here in the USA.  Besides, the USA is 13 trillion dollars in debt.  We’re broke.  We borrow from Red China enormous sums to pay our bills.

After all, we had “child marriage” in this country until the Second World War.  Young girls, 14 or 16 years old, married; many were our grandmothers and greatgrandmothers.  Some guys and girls ran off to another state to get married.  Would it have been right for some other nation to condemn us for allow girls to marry young?  Thankfully those laws are no longer.  Now I am not condoning this sort of thing.  As a follower of Christ, it may be appropriate to speak out against it.  But the government needs to stay out of it.

The US could pass a law saying that a child marriage is not recognized as legal until the parties are 18 and reaffirm their marriage legally.  However, we must stop acting superior to the other nations and heal thyself first.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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