New Hampshire lawmaker calls teens 'ripe' and 'fertile' when defending child marriage

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

New Hampshire lawmaker calls teens ‘ripe’ and ‘fertile’ while speaking out against bill that would ban child marriage


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on May 6, 2024   Updated on May 6, 2024, 4:11 pm CDT

Representative Jesse Edwards, a Republican New Hampshire State Representative, called teens “ripe” and “fertile” when speaking against a bill that would raise the state’s minimum age for marriage from 16 to 18. Despite his remarks, the bill passed in the state’s House of Representatives.

Edwards’ comments have earned him immense backlash and are considered by many to be creepy.

Bill 359, or “Raising the age of marriage to 18 years of age,” passed in both the New Hampshire Senate and House and is awaiting Governor Chris Sununu’s signature to be turned into law. The bill also reaffirms the state’s age of consent to be 18 and repeals all past amendments that allowed for minors under the age of 16 to be married.

Marriages that involve one or more parties between the ages of 16 and 18 are considered child marriages. The controversial practice is only outlawed in 12 states. While a majority of states allow 16 and 17-year-olds to marry, both Kansas and Hawaii allow 15-year-olds to marry.

Edwards opposed the bill and spoke against it before it was passed in the state’s House on Thursday.

Alissandra Murray, another New Hampshire State Representative, posted a video of Edwards speaking about the bill on X.

“Some people seem to think I’m making this up, so here is video footage from session yesterday where Republican State Rep Jess Edwards advocated for [child] marriage and discussed minors as being of ‘ripe and fertile age,'” Murray tweeted.

In the clip Murray posted, Edwards argues that restricting child marriages would lead to more abortions.

“If we continue to restrict the freedom of marriage as a legitimate social option—when we do this to people who are of ripe, fertile age, and may have pregnancy and a baby involved,” Edwards said, “are we not in fact making abortion a much more desirable alternative when marriage might be the right solution for some freedom-loving couple?”

As heard in Murray’s video, people in the legislative chamber groaned and gasped after Edwards said the words “ripe” and “fertile.”

Many were disgusted by Edwards’ comments about teens and expressed their outrage online.

“This is horrific,” an X user tweeted, advocating for Edwards to be voted out of the New Hampshire House. “Thank God #Childmarriage will soon be illegal in New Hampshire.”

“To support child marriage is to support pedophilia. It sickens me that Rep Jess Edwards has been elected to represent New Hampshire,” another X user wrote. “Referring to little girls as ‘fertile and ripe’ makes me want to vomit.”

“What is he hiding in his closet?” another X user said.

Representative Murray, who uses they/them pronouns, also tweeted that they are “tired of being called a groomer when Republicans are the ones fantasizing about ‘fertile’ teenagers and demanding legal child marriage.” The conspiracy theory that LGBTQ+ people are groomers is popular among right-wing politicians and pundits, and entered the mainstream in the wake of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2022.

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*First Published: May 6, 2024, 4:10 pm CDT