The Fear, it is Mongered. Gay Marriage and the Slippery Slope to the Pedophilia that has Been Legal in Heterosexual Marriage for Hundreds of Years.

The latest in Christian right fearmongering about Teh Gays comes from the American Family Association, breathlessly reporting that pedophilia has now been recognized as a sexual orientation by the American Psychology Association, and this is a consequence of gay marriage.  Slippery slope and all that.  The fact that pedophilia was not recognized as a sexual orientation and Charisma News has admitted as such, does not seem to stop the fearmongering.  In fact, if you read the retraction from Charisma News, they say “This is good news, but many observers have been predicting for years that pedophilia would be reclassified as a sexual orientation. And some still believe the mental health profession is on a slippery slope heading in that direction.”

I love retractions of the form “we were wrong in this instance, but we are still totes right that this is going to happen.”  Charisma news also states that the AFA wasn’t fearmongering, but I would probably only believe that if AFA had been one of the groups calling for clarification from the American Psychology Association and had issued such a retraction themselves.  Or better yet, asking for clarification before reporting.

More seriously and with less slippery slope and Teh Gay Fearmongering, let us consider for a moment the current state of the legality of pedophilia in the US following the legalization of gay marriage.    In all 50 states of the US, minimum age for marriage is younger than 18 with parental consent (though to be fair, in a few states, one must have a court order as well as parental consent).  In all 50 states of the US, this situation predates marriage equality.  In some states there is no minimum provided there is parental consent.  This means pedophilia is only illegal without marriage that parents approve of.   And by marriage, we mean (until just recently) the god-fearing one man (or actually boy) one woman (or actually girl) sort of marriage.

 Parents in states with slightly higher minimum age requirements for marrying off their minor children can go to states with lower limits (or no minimum age limits at all, there are a few of those) and then it’s legal and recognized in all states.  A Georgia church called the House of Prayer was known for taking girls across the state line to Alabama (where marital minimum age for women was 14, an age set in 1852, well before marriage equality, though I think it has been since raised to 16)  so that the pastor could legally “authorize” (his term) marriage  between the teenage girls of his flock and men he approved. The men he approved were legal adults, their brides, not so much. The newlyweds came back to Georgia and were still considered married even though under Georgia law, people have to be at least 16 to marry unless a girl is pregnant, in which case she can get married younger (think about the implications of that for a moment.)
Child marriage is abuse and a violation of human rights.   The US was actually one of the sponsors for the UN resolution against child marriage.  I am betting the way the US follows through is by criticizing other nations for doing it while not outlawing it domestically, but I hope I’m wrong.   Girls not Brides estimates that as many as 3000 girls in the US have been forced into marriage.  Granted, we could dismiss this as a problem for an insignificant percentage of the population, but we should at least pretend to care about our own people.  It’s not like the US doesn’t have the resources and ability to change laws pertaining to marriage. When our own people are affected by human rights issues we take international stands against those international stands seem uncomfortably condescending if not imperialistic.   Besides, even if we take the very Christian position of caring more about marriage in concept rather than people, we know that people who marry younger are less likely to stay married (the charts on page 18 are what you’re looking for in the massive CDC pdf).   And in the case of girls 15-19, more likely to have complications with pregnancy and childbirth.  As in, childbirth is the second leading cause of death worldwide for girls 15-19.  In the US, underage girls are more likely to need parental consent and/or notification for abortion.  I’m betting that parents who consent to child marriage aren’t going to consent to abortions.  Then we get into unsafe abortion territory, and that just makes the maternal mortality rate worse.

Even beyond the legal age aspect, if the christian fearmongers cared about pedophilia rather than demonizing homosexuality, they would not encourage a permanent infantilization of women coupled with a willful discouragement of education, both sexual and otherwise, in order to remove the ability of women to have the power and education they are entitled to and need in order to make sexual and marital choices as adults.

Featured is John Collier’s The Child Bride, via wikimedia commons

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.

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