A Republican lawmaker responded to a co-sponsorship memo regarding child marriage on Friday with an email saying he would add an amendment against gender-affirming healthcare for minors.
In an email sent to Wisconsin legislators at 3 a.m., Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, said he would add an amendment to prohibit gender-affirming hormones and surgery for minors in addition to banning child marriage.
“If you’re really serious about protecting minors I’ll add an amendment to also protect them from sex altering drugs and surgery and then cosponsor with you,” the email read.
Macco’s email was in response to a child marriage co-sponsorship memo sent by Democratic Sens. Mark Spreitzer of Beloit and Jeff Smith of Eau Claire, as well as Democratic Reps. Jimmy Anderson of Fitchburg, Sue Conley of Janesville and Clinton Anderson of Beloit.
The bill would ban 16- and 17-year-olds from legally marrying with parental consent. It would also repeal statutes that allow adults to have sexual intercourse with minors if they are married. Married minors would also be able to file for annulment, divorce or legal separation without their guardian’s consent.
Macco did not immediately respond to comment on his email.
Spreitzer, who is the chair of the Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus, told the Cardinal in an email statement he will “continue to strongly oppose any attempts by Republicans in our state to attack LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites.”
“Ending child marriage should not be a partisan issue,” Spreitzer said. “Regardless of a single email from one representative, I hope the rest of my colleagues will consider the importance of this bill and sign as co-sponsors.”
Additionally, Spreitzer said he would be happy to find common ground on political issues with Macco, but “[he] knows that we do not agree on the issue of gender-affirming care.”
According to Legislative Reference Bureau data from 2013, girls are six times more likely than boys to be married as minors. The memo also stated that child marriages have higher rates of domestic violence.
There were 14 children married in Wisconsin in 2022, according to the LRB memo. Two minors were married to other minors in 2022, while the number of minors married to adults was 12.
“LRB-5749 will ban child marriage in Wisconsin and give children who are currently married the means and agency to leave that marriage,” Spreitzer wrote on Twitter.
Legislators have until Feb. 12 to co-sponsor the bill.