What's the Matter with Kansas?
On Sunday evening, Matthew Koso tipped three ounces of formula into his 5-day-old daughter's mouth, then hoisted her atop his shoulder in hope of a burp. On Tuesday morning, he is scheduled to be arraigned on charges for which the newborn is the state's prime piece of evidence.Where have we heard about kids and sex in Kansas recently? Oh yeah, hyper-conservative state attorney general Phill Kline has been trying to get access to records from clinics with the reported intent of prosecuting "child rape and other crimes in order to protect Kansas children." But no one in the freaking statehouse thought to say that, with or without parental consent, 12 is probably too young to marry?
Mr. Koso is 22. The baby's mother, Crystal, is 14. He is charged with statutory rape, even though they were wed with their parents' blessing in May, crossing into Kansas because their own state prohibits marriages of people under 17...
Outrage over the case has rippled through this town of 4,800 about 100 miles from both Omaha and Kansas City, and to two state capitals. The governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, embarrassed by her state's status as one of the few allowing children as young as 12 to marry, has said she will propose a raise in the minimum age when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Don't forget: Kansas has had a Republican majority for almost its entire history, so blaming this on liberals' loose morals won't stick.
Fix this, please.
Update: In the comments, one person wrote that I was being ridiculous and this had simply passed "under the radar" of most Kansas politicians, who will now fix it. Commenter Kim disagreed.
This didn't slip under anybody's radar, and here's why: the Kansas legislature probably punted on this issue a couple of years ago (2003?) when they closed the loophole in common-law marriage. Sneaky people were avoiding statutory rape charges in Kansas by declaring themselves to have been common-law married at the time of the offense. The Legislature caught on and, if I recally correctly, made it so that you have to be 18 to be common-law married.Kim then adds:
So nobody thought of raising the age for getting married via a license and a ceremony until now? They were raising the age for one kind of marriage--I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't have given at least passing consideration raising the age for the other kind of marriage as well. In my mind, it amounts to a reaffirmance of the existing law.
I hope this gets pointed out whenever legislators (at least those who were around when the law was enacted) feign surprise at the shockingly low marriage age.
The common-law marriage change took effect in 2002. Sebelius had not yet been elected, so she's off the hook.