History of Marriage Law Essay

2692 Words11 Pages
History of Marriage Law

While abortion law is a lot more straightforward and the patterns are obvious, marriage law in the United States is a bit more complicated.

-English common law, and early American law, before the 1820's treated marriages like business mergers. The fathers paid dowries and often arranged marriages for their daughters. In the early 1800's fathers could contract their daughters to marriage as early as age 12 and there was no consent on her part. Boys had to be 14 before they could enter into a marriage contract.

-The age at which a woman could enter into marriage in the mid-nineteenth century varied widely from state to state, and therefore a timeline of laws is very difficult to accomplish.

…show more content…
-Many of these sorts of laws went throughout the first half of the 20th century. The best interest of the children standard did not come into effect in child custody hearings until well into the 20th century and the divorce laws for women were very, very strict.

-Liberalization of the marriage laws really started to come into effect in the late 1950's. Women slowly gained more rights in their marriages and to their children.

-In 1967 in the Loving v. Virginia case, the US Supreme Court struck down all laws prohibiting interracial marriages.

-In 1968 the Supreme Court decided the Griswold case, stating that the government had no right to interfere in reproductive issues within a marriage.

-Currently several cases are coming into the Supreme Court to challenge laws prohibiting same sex marriages and the United States President and conservative members of Congress want to create an amendment to the United States Constitution forever defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Rape Law History

-The earliest laws against rape were actually property protection laws. The crime was not considered to be against the woman, but against her father or husband, the people responsible for her sexual conduct.

-Other early rape laws were based on religious beliefs about a woman's sexual character
Get Access