Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

In Maryland, you need to be just 15 to legally get married.

For this marriage to be allowed, the minor’s parents or guardians must consent, and the female must either be pregnant or have given birth. Despite these caveats, allowing minors of such a young age to be married is clearly wrong.

In fact, allowing minors of any age to marry is ludicrous. We, as a society, have decided that 18 is the age at which one becomes mature enough to make one’s own decisions. That is why people of this age are allowed to vote and make decisions for themselves without parental consent. If marriage is supposed to be a bond of commitment between two people, we cannot allow minors who are not deemed responsible enough to buy a lottery ticket to enter into a marriage.

Furthermore, the caveats listed under Maryland law do not protect minors from coercion. In many religions, it is a sin to engage in sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage. Should a minor get pregnant, she might face pressure or coercion from her guardians to marry. This accomplishes nothing other than forcing a child into a commitment they are ill-prepared for.

It seems that most members of the Maryland General Assembly are at least partially in agreement that the age of legal marriage must be raised. The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill this year to raise the age to 17, and the Senate responded with a bill to raise the age to 16. Neither side would budge on their stated age of marriage. The result is that when this year’s legislative session closed, the law had not changed, and 15-year-olds can still be married in Maryland.

This set of circumstances highlights a trend in our politics: Two sides are so unwilling to compromise that they fail to accomplish even the simplest policy changes. Both sides agreed that the minimum marriage age must be raised, but a disagreement over one year prevented any progress. In politics, as in many other professions, compromise is a necessary element of success. The failure to make a change as obvious as raising the age of legal marriage above 15 proves that refusing to budge often ends with everyone being worse off.

Children should not be allowed to marry. They are too young to be making such a serious decision, and they are at risk of being manipulated into making that decision. When the argument is whether to raise the minimum age by one or two years, legislators must be able to compromise. Establishing a minimum age of 16 and a half would have been a solution that would have made progress while being palatable to both sides. Instead, we are stuck exactly where we started.

Mitchell Rock is a senior government and politics and physiology and neurobiology major. He can be reached at