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September 30, 2023

Michigan Bans Child Marriages but Not Child Mutilation

It’s so contradictory. Where is the logic?

By Joshua Arnold

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a package of four bills this year establishing 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage, affixing her signature to the fourth bill on September 19. Yet while the governor has taken action against child marriage, she has done nothing to protect children from the irreversible, lifelong harm of gender transition procedures — if anything, she has promoted these procedures.

“Keeping Michiganders safe and healthy is one of my top priorities, and today’s bipartisan bills will build on our efforts to protect young people — especially young women — from abuse,” said Whitmer of the child marriage ban. “As a county prosecutor, I went after those who used their power to prey on young people, and as governor, I am proud to sign legislation to strengthen protections for children and survivors into law. Together, we can make Michigan a safe, welcoming state where you can grow up and pursue your potential.”

To be sure, many adult predators do target and exploit minors. But a predator doesn’t need marriage to control a minor when their toolbox includes money, manipulation, blackmail, and abortion.

In fact, the package of bills Whitmer signed doesn’t address the abuse of minors in a sexual way. In Michigan, it was already a felony for an adult to have sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 16 — which would theoretically already prohibit child marriages — and this remains unchanged under current law. While the law may discourage the sexual abuse of minors, it would also ensure that sexually active 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds were deprived of the protecting, loving, and legal benefits of the marriage bond.

Given this context, Whitmer’s comments define marriage itself as “abuse” — a shockingly dismal view of civilization’s basic building block. Whitmer suggested that young Michiganders cannot “grow up and pursue [their] potential” if they are married, which suggests she may have been thinking according to feminist ideology, that marriage was economic exploitation that prevented women from having fulfilling careers. One only needs to know a few married women to see this claim is not borne out by experience; Whitmer herself has been married to her second husband for 12 years.

As to the impact of these laws banning child marriage, the annual number of Michigan minors who got married has dwindled from more than 500 to less than 50, according to Michigan Live. (Presumably, that number also includes more high school sweethearts tying the knot than it does exploited minors controlled by powerful adults.) How courageous of Michigan’s 148-seat legislature to ban a practice in which almost no one engages!

Yet the most striking aspect of these virtue-signaling laws is that they highlight Michigan’s weakness on policy issues that really matter. Michigan currently fails “to protect young people — especially young women — from abuse.”

A growing number of detransitioners have sued the practitioners who performed gender transition procedures on them while they were minors. These young people — including a large number of young women — had healthy organs removed and now suffer from lifelong, irreversible complications. Yet several bills to protect minors from these experimental and harmful procedures have languished in the Michigan legislature’s Democrat-controlled committees, without seeing any action.

In fact, Michigan voters in 2022 approved a ballot proposal (Proposal 3) that may have enshrined gender transition procedures on children in the state constitution, argued conservative legal analyst Margot Cleveland. Ostensibly about abortion, the proposal grants “every individual” — regardless of age or parental consent — “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom … including but not limited to … sterilization … and infertility care.” The squirrelly language was “crafted by Planned Parenthood and left-wing backers,” said Cleveland. Planned Parenthood has dramatically expanded to provide gender transition procedures, according to its annual report.

A consent form obtained from a university transgender center admitted that cross-sex hormones “may cause … irreversible infertility.” If a child’s parents object to gender transition procedures on the grounds that they may harm their child’s chances of having a child of their own at some future date, this proposal would allow the child to overrule the parents. “There’s no way an adolescent can wrap their head around infertility, complete lack of sexual function,” said Dr. Quentin Van Meter, former president of the American College of Pediatricians. “You ask any 14-year-old, they’re not going to want to have children. They’re very self-centered and can’t think past the tip of their nose.”

In addition to Planned Parenthood, Michigan’s Proposal 3 also enjoyed vigorous support from Governor Whitmer, who vowed to “fight like hell” to get it approved. A month after Proposal 3 passed, Whitmer directed state departments and agencies to implement it systematically and “ensure that reproductive freedom [defined broadly to potentially include gender transition procedures for minors] is secured to all Michiganders.”

Joining Whitmer in pushing trans policies for minors is Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). Nessel filed an amicus brief against laws protecting minors from gender transition procedures in Tennessee and Kentucky, which are facing legal challenges before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Adjacent policy decisions indicate that Michigan’s current state government is likely to continue advancing policies that promote gender transition procedures for children — which really is child abuse. In July, Governor Whitmer signed legislation prohibiting what the Left likes to call “conversion therapy,” which essentially amounts to a ban on counselors helping a young person out of an LGBT identity, even one with which he or she is unhappy. On Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted a rule requiring lawyers arguing before them to refer to persons’ gender identity and preferred pronouns, instead of their real sex and pronouns. These are only a few of the many pro-trans policies Michigan leaders have adopted.

It’s so contradictory. On the one hand, Michigan will pass four bills banning child marriage, which is mostly illegal under current law, and which affects only about 50 people per year. Michigan leaders explained that they wanted “to protect young people — especially young women — from abuse.” At the same time, the same leaders endorse and promote gender transition procedures for children, locking them into a lifetime of drugs and therapy, likely including permanent infertility and sterilization, irreversible physical changes, and the surgical removal of healthy organs. Where is the logic?

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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