Recent headlines, from Jeffrey Epstein to the Matt Gaetz allegations, have starkly revealed that some unscrupulous adults will prey on minors without hesitation. These sickening acts are often preceded by elaborate grooming techniques that take advantage of a child’s inexperience and lack of maturity. But what is even worse is when such acts are legally recognized and legitimized by the state.
Child marriage is currently legal in California, and there is no minimum age (NBC News, “End child marriage in the U.S.? You might be surprised at who's opposed,” www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/end-child-marriage-u-s-you-might-be-surprised-who-n1050471).
This issue aggrieves me personally because it has happened to my family. I have relatives who were married off while they were children. Those marriages did not take place here, in this country. They happened overseas decades ago. But it is unacceptable that what happened to them overseas, decades ago, could happen to a child who is living in California today. It is unacceptable. We are better than that.
The U.S. State Department has rightly condemned child marriage in other countries, but California and dozens of other states allow it. There is a disconnect between the State Department and the states. Before we criticize child marriage in Africa or Asia or the Middle East, we must first do everything we can to legally prohibit child marriage in California.
One of the most high-profile apologists for child marriage is Tucker Carlson, who helms the top-rated show on Fox News. Roughly a decade ago, he called into a radio show and argued that “arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her. That’s bulls---.” Mr. Carlson insisted that “the rapist, in this case, has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person, so it is a little different.” In yet another call, he said, “13-year-old boys getting laid, not a bad thing,” justifying his view with the argument that “when a 13-year-old boy is 35 he can barely remember the girls he slept with when he was 13.” Mr. Carlson further argued that female schoolteachers who molest 13-year-old boys are in fact “doing a service to all 13-year-old girls by taking the pressure off. They are a pressure relief valve, like the kind you have on your furnace.”
Tucker Carlson made these remarks without guilt or shame or regret. When his statements surfaced years later, he refused to apologize and instead took advantage of the controversy to promote his television show, saying, “Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch.” How can he feel any guilt or shame or regret when he has only been rewarded in the years since he made those remarks, up to this day?
To draw a comparison, Mike Richards had been selected as the next host of Jeopardy until his derogatory comments about women and Jews years ago on a podcast were discovered. He apologized, saying, “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.” Then he stepped down as the next host of Jeopardy. Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson, whose comments justifying pedophilia were even worse, remains on the air and is paid millions.
Here’s another example of a pedophilia enabler. In New Jersey, the legislature passed a bill that would have legally prohibited all marriages involving minors. However, the bill was vetoed by then-Governor Chris Christie, who said that it would “violate the cultures and traditions of some communities.”
I have a message for Chris Christie. Child marriage is not a cultural practice. Child marriage is not a tradition. Child marriage is an abomination. It is an atrocity. It is a crime against humanity.
By first grooming and "marrying" their victims, adult predators evade justice for statutory rape of a minor. If elected as your next state senator, I will immediately introduce legislation to close the child rape loophole. If lawmakers from either party decide to vote against my bill, you will know their names.
Child marriage is a backward and barbaric practice that has no place in twenty-first century California. State-sanctioned pedophilia is not acceptable under any circumstances, and our laws must reflect that ironclad principle.