The Senate has advanced a bill to set a minimum age on marriage to 16, so long as there is not an age gap of four years or greater between the two parties when one is under 18.  Bill author Baton Rouge Sen. Yvonne Colomb, says minimum ages are set in other aspects in life in an effort to protect young people.

“Most states do have a floor, and the floor is different in different states, but we’ve worked with the opposition and 16 was something they could live with,” said Colomb.

Winnfield Senator Gerald Long spoke in opposition of the bill, saying that less than 1% marry before the age of 18, adding the arbitrary number could result in unintended consequences.

“Marriage is holy, it’s special, but I don’t think we need to be arbitrarily determining when a person falls in love.  And if the reason is just, and the cause is right, we ought to allow that,” said Long.

New Orleans Senator JP Morrell spoke in favor of the regulation, saying it combats human trafficking in the state.

“Human traffickers literally marry their victims to get the protections of spousal immunity and things like that.  There is a reason why across the country, including the south, they have tackled this issue of marriage age,” said Morrell.

The bill advances to the House following a 22-15 vote.