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Mic, Salon paint Republicans as trying to legalize statutory rape

Both Salon and Mic want us to know that those Republicans in Tennessee are trying to pass a law allowing statutory rape. This is one of those ideas that doesn’t really pass legal logic.

But they’re trying it, Salon [1]: “A GOP-backed bill in Tennessee would eliminate any age requirements for marriage, …(…)…GOP bill, first introduced in January, establishes a common-law marriage between “one man” and “one woman” but omits any age requirements for the union, an omission that Democrats have blasted.”

Mic [2]: “In Tennessee, Democrats have fired back against H.B.233 because it doesn’t include age requirements for marriage.”

This is not quite how the law does work. Note that little “common-law marriage” part in there. The thing to note is that statute law always overrides common law. So, it’s entirely possible – and some number of states have it – to have statutory marriage that is legal before the statutory age of consent outside marriage. Because one statute specifically modifies the other.

But statute always modifies common law. So that statutory age of consent applies to common-law marriages even if this particular and specific law doesn’t say so. That’s just the way statute law does work. So, those attempting a common-law marriage to someone under age would be caught by the statutory age of consent – this law doesn’t exempt it from that which it would have to to override.

Even if that were not true something else rather important is. Before either of these articles were written amendments had been made to this new law which impose that desired age limit anyway [3].

“A previous version of this article said that Tennessee House Bill 0233 contained language that would legalize child and non-consensual marriages. After review, we learned we were using outdated information that was already corrected by press time. The bill was already amended to remove those specific provisions by press time.”

That that’s neither Salon or Mic providing that update.

Salon is one of the leading political magazines aimed at the progressive set. It gains some 7 million visits a month and is ranked at 63 for law and government – yes, law and government – as it does so. Mic is a little smaller at 2.2 million visits a month but is part of the BDG Group (Bustle, Gawker and so on for 100 million visitors a month).

It might just be possible that the desire to show up Republicans from certain places as backwoods rubes overrode that necessity to check a story both for its own internal logic and also for that relationship with reality and facts. But then to insist upon that could be us not checking our facts properly so we’ll not so insist.