BATON ROUGE, La. — A Senate committee advanced a bill that would set 18 as the state’s minimum age for marriage. 

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, will move to the Senate floor, where it is expected to be amended. 

There is currently no legal minimum for marriage in Louisiana. Minors aged 16 and 17 require parental consent to get married, and minors under 16 years must also obtain a juvenile court judge’s permission. 

In neighboring states like Texas, the minimum age is 16 and requires a judge’s consent, and in Mississippi parental consent is required for men aged 17 and women aged 15 and above. In Arkansas, the minimum age for minors to marry is 17 with parental consent. 

“A lot of times we make an attempt to take corrective action to something, but as we all know, just because we put something in law that doesn’t necessarily mean that the bad actors follow that law,” said committee chairman Sen. Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen

Lawmakers signaled bipartisan support for the bill, agreeing that Louisiana needs a minimum age. But they debated what age would be appropriate. 

Sen. W. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, suggested that the bill needs more consideration to avoid casting “such a wide net,” he said. “I think we need to pick an arbitrary number. I just don’t think 18 is the number,” Luneau said.