Why should child marriage be legal?

I’ve been seeing people murmur about this issue for awhile now, but I didn’t really dig into it. It’s shocking, to say the least:

Most people will agree: Sexual predators who target children are bad. However, some GOP legislators and religious leaders are OK with adults having sex with children—as long as they are legally married. A recent flurry of legislation to review the minimum marriage age is pitting the rights of predators against the rights of children, and the predators have a surprisingly amount of support. […]

In 2010, nearly 10,000 minors got married in the U.S., the vast majority of them underage girls married to adult men. Between 2000 and 2015, 86 percent of the reported 207,468 child marriages that took place in the United States were between minors and adults (eight states did not report data). Only 14 percent were between two minors—a “Romeo and Juliet” situation. […]

Evangelical pop culture is filled with advocates for child marriage—particularly the marriage of girls in their teens to adult men. Child marriage advocate Vaughn Ohlman speaks at homeschooling conventions about the benefits of child marriages (for adult men). […] Parents are encouraged to arrange early marriages so the girls can be molded to be an ideal companion for their husband. Visible figures such as the Duggar family put an emphasis on early and “fruitful” marriage. And a culture that labels underage victims as sluts and forgives “repentant” adult rapists turns what is often a predator story into a false narrative where children have power, when in reality they have none.

The United States is a large country, and stories like this underscore that point. The whole piece is worth reading.