Variations to marriage age

Surprising to see this change in marriage law in Spain:

Legal age for marriage raised in Spain

The legal age for marriage is being raised in Spain.

At the moment, people as young as 14 can get married in Spain. The minimum age is being raised to 16, in an effort to protect minors from sex abuse.

Interesting to see the variations in marriage ages around the world:

They range mostly between 15 and 21, with some countries having different ages with parental consent, and many having a younger marriage age for females. There’s also some leniency for younger ages.

Indonesia: 19 for males and 16 for females. Marriage at younger ages is legal with parental consent

There are many variations to marriage law around the world.


No sense in Sensible Sentencing Trust

I wonder if Garth McVicar comments as Andre on Kiwiblog, this sounds like his sort of nonsense. No facts, just prejudice.

Lobbyist links gay marriage to crime rise in NZ

Sensible Sentencing Trust leader Garth McVicar has submitted to Parliament that changing the law to allow same-sex marriage will be yet another erosion of basic morals and values in society which have led to an escalation of child abuse, domestic violence, and an ever-increasing prison population.

“The marriage amendment bill will not benefit society at all and will ultimately have detremetal (sic) effect on crime at all levels,” the submission read.

McVicar’s statement said that he considered the bill would be a further erosion of what he considered to be essential basic values and morals that have “stood the test of time for centuries”.

“Furthermore, the bill represents a further decay and erosion of the traditional family that society has been founded on.”

Or maybe Andre is just a repeater of SST talking points.  Which are certainly not based on facts or sense.

Criminologist Dr James Oleson, from Auckland University, an expert in deviance, said he was not familiar with any research that would suggest homosexuals would be responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime.

For McVicar’s argument to be plausible, he said, it would have to be proved that allowing homosexuals to marry degraded morality, and that this produced more crime. “But I’m not sure that’s true.” The more common drivers of crime were economic issues, alcohol, drugs, education and employment and family dysfunction, Oleson said.

But that won’t stop the factless scaremongering being repeated, again and again.

Update: a twitter exchange…

Most against the Bill seem to be hankering for a Truman Show version of NZ: conformist, God-fearing nuclear families

They think that marriage equality will destroy everyone’s morals, like, if you get married I’ll rob a bank.

yes. “#marriageequality then nek minnit sack of Rome” is one of the most common arguments being used by opponents



What is marriage?

It is most often defined as a union between two people, but it depends on how marriage is defined culturally and legally in any modern country.


noun 1.

a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.

b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.


There are religious claims to marriage, like…

…marriage, as a word, is a religious activity (controlled by the church) which has subsequently been made a civil activity (controlled by the State).

My ‘solution’ is to define all legal unions as XXXXX and reserve the term marriage for those legal unions which are conducted in accordance with a church’s rules. So, every husband and wife would be legally joined, but only those legally joined in a church ceremony would be ‘married’.

Many would dispute that religious groups have exclusive ownership to ‘marriage’ as a single religious entity.

Marriage types mentioned in the Bible:

1. Man + Woman (Nuclear Family) – Genesis 2:24
– wives subordinate to husbands
– interfaith marriages forbidden
– marriages generally arranged
– bride who could not prove virginity was stoned to death

2. Man + Wife + Concubines
– Abraham 2, Solomon 300

3. Man + Woman + Woman’s property
– man could acquire wife’s property including slaves

4. Man + Woman + Woman + Woman… – (Polygany) Genesis 16
– Esau 3, David many, Abijah 14, Solomon 700

5. Man + Brother’s Widow (Leviterate) – Genesis 38:6-10
– woman who had not borne a son required to marry her brother-in-law
– must submit sexually to her new husband

6. Rapist + Victim – Deuteronomy 22:28-29
– virgin who is raped must marry her rapist
– rapist must pay victim’s father 50 shekels of silver for property loss

7. Soldier + Prisoner of War – Numbers 31:1-18, Deuteronomy 21:11-14
– under Moses’ command Israelites must kill every Midianite man, woman and child except for virgin girls who are taken as spoils of war
– wives must submit sexually to their new owners

8. Male Slave + Female Slave – Exodus 21:4
– slave owner could assign female slaves to his male slaves
– female slaves must submit sexually to their husbands

Claims that marriage is a cultural practice that must not be tampered with are contradicted by many variations in marriage over time. Marriage has varied and evolved for millenia, and now means different things to different cultures and to different people within cultures.

Marriage variations over history

Variations of marriage over time according to Religious Tolerance:

Marriage has been an amazingly flexible institution. It is and has been in a continuous state of flux. At various eras and locations:

It has been a purely secular ceremony. It has been a deeply religious ritual.
It has been regarded as a life-long commitment. It has been a temporary handfasting which expired after a year-and-a-day.
It has symbolized the transfer of the near absolute ownership and control of a woman from her father to her husband. It has recognized the relationship of two independent individuals, who enter marriage as equals.
In the past, marriages have been restricted to two persons in some cultures, and more than two in others. In the Bible, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. In predominately Christian countries, marriages have been limited to two persons. In predominately Muslim countries, polygyny is occasionally practiced. This is a form of polygamy with one man and up to four wives. Polygyny is practiced among fundamentalist Mormon denominations in Utah, and British Columbia, where it is illegal but rarely prosecuted .
In the past, some African-Americans and inter-racial couples have not been permitted to marry. Currently, with few exceptions based on genetics or familial relationships, any opposite-sex couple, no matter what their race, can marry.
In the past, only opposite-sex couples were permitted to marry. Same-sex couples can now marry in a growing number of jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, a few other states, including Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, etc.
In the past, over 1,400 rights and privileges have been restricted to heterosexual married couples in most states of the U.S.. Committed gay and lesbian couples can now get about 400 rights and privileges in the District of Columbia and a growing number of states where they are allowed to marry. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOAM) denies them federal rights and privileges of marriage. They receive full marital benefits in Canada.


History of marriage

The history of marriage dates back as far as the ancient times. Studies revealed that marriage didn’t exist before. The usual practice was that the men in a certain tribe or horde had access to the women they like. When children are born, they belonged to the whole community. This is associated with the perception that humans want sexual variety. However, things have changed when sexual morality was developed and has since influenced the social life of the people.

The earliest marriage was believed to be ‘group marriage’. The union was basically between groups of men and women, and there exists shared sexual relations. The group marriage allowed polyandry, and this existed in Ceylon, India, and Tibet many years ago.

The origin of marriage is a great debate subject. Many people are wondering how marriage began. There have been studies that claim the existence of marriage 4,350 years ago. Before this time, families were made up of less organized groups consisting of more or less than thirty people. The group consisted of men that shared women. With the introduction of agricultural civilization, the society demanded for stable arrangements.

It is said that the first union between a man and a woman took place in Mesopotamia at 2350 BC. Marriage evolved since then and such practice was observed by the Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews. However, the union was never about love or religion. The primary purpose of the marriage is to ensure that the man’s children are biologically his, and so women were treated as mere ‘property’.

Wives were expected to stay at home and attend to the children, as well as house chores. A husband can give back his wife if she is unable to produce children. The ancient people also turned to prostitutes, concubines, or male lovers to satisfy their needs for sexual variety.


The evolution of marriage

It is often claimed that marriage has always been one thing, for example:

It has always, in the Anglo Saxon world, with it’s un written constitution, been so bleedin’ obvious what marriage was…

No, it has changed.

  • Marriage used to commonly be a contract of a man taking ownership of a woman.
  • Marriage used to commonly be the only financial security a woman could have.
  • Marriage used to be a power arrangement (where one or both people being married had no say).
  • Marriage used to often be an abusive, dangerous trap.
  • Marriage used to often be under shotgun conditions.
  • Marriage used to be the only acceptable way a child could leave the family home.
  • Marriage used to be the primary ‘career’ choice of women.

Most of that no longer happens (in New Zealand at least).

Marriage has evolved into being an optional voluntary equal arrangement and commitment between two people.

A bit more evolution won’t hurt most people, but it will help some people and will be far better than some of the oppressive practices of the past.

Defining marriage

It is often claimed that marriage has always been between a man and woman. For example:

I see this as an argument over the definition of a word – marriage = man and woman, and has done since the word was ‘created’

Definitions include:

1. to take in marriage
2. to perform the marriage ceremonies for (two people); join in wedlock.
3. to give in marriage; arrange the marriage of.
4. to unite intimately: Common economic interests marry the two countries.
5. to take as an intimate life partner by a formal exchange of promises in the manner of a traditional marriage ceremony.

Where does the word ‘marry’ come from?

1250–1300; Middle English marien < Old French marier < Latin marītāre to wed, derivative of marītus conjugal, akin to mās male (person)

Word Origin & History
c.1300, from O.Fr. marier, from L. maritare “to wed, marry, give in marriage,” from maritus “married man, husband,” of uncertain origin, perhaps ult. from “provided with a *mari,” a young woman, from PIE base *meri- “young wife,” akin to *meryo- “young man” (cf. Skt. marya- “young man, suitor”).

a common oath in the Middle Ages, c.1350, now obsolete, a corruption of the name of the Virgin Mary.

Nothing there definitively saying marriage = man and woman. It seems to be man orientated, not surprising as marriage often used to be man owns woman (as part of his property). A marriage was a convention used to breed an heir for his property.

And anyone who knows about language evolution will say the definition history is irrelevant. “Gay” has evolved to a variety of modern uses, eg merry, homosexual and lame.

As others have said, how we legally define marriage is up to us now.

It could be said that Louisa Wall is trying to make marry merry.

Colin Craig – please substantiate

In your press release Gay Marriage Bill Unintelligent you make these claims:

“The situation is that 98% of New Zealanders are heterosexual, and approximately one per cent are the liberal social activists busy with their social engineering, trying to redefine marriage for the rest of us.”

“The other one per cent, are gays who are not busy trying to meddle with the system, and good on them for respecting what marriage already is, and always has been.”

Please advise what facts you base these claims on.


The total figures (i.e. 98% / 2%) come from the University of Otago research project on Sexual Orientation. As far as we are aware this is the most detailed study on the subject as it was longitudinal and had 13,000 participants.

The study found that 0.8% (i.e. less than 1%) identify themselves as homosexual, 0.6% as bisexual, and 0.3% as something else other than heterosexual (such as transvestites). This adds up to 1.7% in total.

Feedback directly to us, and within the GLBT community is divided on the issue of marriage. While some in the community support the proposed bill, others are not in favour, either because they respect that the word marriage is already defined, and has significance for others, or because they value their homosexuality as a point of difference, and do not wish to conform to society’s norms.

There is no actual measure of exactly what this split is, which is why Colin chose to use the word “approximately” 1%.

From the Conservative Party press secretary.

At the 2006 Census, there were a recorded 12,300 people living in a same-sex couple in New Zealand – 5,300 male and 7,000 female.

Otherwise statistic are variable due to definitions and ways of gathering data.

Since most of the surveys mentioned are based on door to door or telephone based statistics, the numbers and percentages mentioned are strongly likely to be underreported since most LGBT people still live in fear of being outed by their local authorities and mostly their family members, therefore choose to hide their real sexual identity.

For women 97.7% identified as heterosexual, 0.8% as lesbian and 1.4% as bisexual.

Nevertheless, 18.6% of men and 15.1% of women reported either feelings of attraction to the same gender or some sexual experience with the same gender.

Half the men and two thirds of the women who had same-sex sexual experience regarded themselves as heterosexual rather than homosexual.

Sex in Australia: The Australian study of health and relationships, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. (Published as the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health vol 27 no 2.)

This shows how numbers can vary over time and through different survey methods.


1988 – In a random survey of 6,300 Norwegians, 3.5% of the men and 3% of the women reported that they had a homosexual experience sometime in their life.

2003 – According to Durex Global Sex Survey for 2003, 12% of Norwegian respondents have had homosexual sex.

Despite all the statistical uncertainty, does it matter whether 0.1% or 5% of people are affected directly?

Marriage rights made simple

Can we have law that reflects this?