UPDATE 2:15 P.M. — Senator Moon has released a statement on YouTube addressing the video in which he supports juveniles getting married.

Original article:

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. — During a Missouri Senate meeting on April 11, State Senator Mike Moon defended his stance to allow 12-year-olds to get married in Missouri with their parent’s consent.

“Do you know any kids who have been married at age 12?” Moon asked a speaker who brought up his voting against allowing kids to be married to adults with parental consent. “I do. And guess what — they’re still married.”

On Twitter, Moon wrote a reply to someone who shared the video of him defending his stance:

“Something that is often missing is the back story. With regard to my answer, I did not discuss the details: a 12 year old impregnated a minor of similar age. With consent of the parents, they married… and are still married today.”

Moon made the statement during a defense of his Senate Bill 49, which would disallow health care providers from performing gender transition surgeries on minors. The bill does not mention allowing surgeries with parental consent.

In 2018, Moon opposed a bill that raised the legal age to marry with parental consent from 15 to 16 in Missouri.

Senator Moon is from Ash Grove in Greene County. He represents the 29th Senatorial District in the Missouri Senate, a district that covers Barry, Christian, Lawrence and McDonald counties.

Missouri KidsFirst Executive Director Jessica Seitz released a statement on behalf of the organizations in response:

Missouri KidsFirst finds the comments of Mike Moon deeply problematic.

Back in 2018, our agency worked with lawmakers to pass a law raising the minimum marriage age. At the time, Missouri was one of the most lenient states in the nation with regard to child marriage. In 2018, Senate Bill 655 set the minimum age of marriage to 16 and closed the “marriage loophole” to statutory rape by prohibiting marriage between a young person under 17 to someone 21 years or older.

Child marriage robs our children of their childhood and we know that children who marry before 18 experience worse economic and health outcomes than their peers. Our agency is concerned about child marriage and we oppose our state going backward on the progress we made in 2018. Furthermore, we do not support lowering the marriage age, even with parental consent. Parental consent does not guarantee safety, our Centers see alarming cases of adolescents who have been victims of sexual exploitation by their families in exchange for money and goods.

Jessica Seitz