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Texas Lawmaker Files Bill Raising Age of Marriage Consent

Texas Lawmaker Files Bill Raising Age of Marriage Consent

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A Texas state lawmaker has proposed raising the age of consent to marriage from 14 to 16.

The proposal from state Representative Harvey Hilderbran responds to a polygamous religious sect's move from Utah and Arizona to West Texas.

The Kerrville Republican's proposal also would outlaw the marriage of stepparents to stepchildren and toughen requirements for running for office.

The bill was assigned today to the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues.

It's aimed at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has built a new complex just about 40 miles south of San Angelo. Members are forbidden access to newspapers, radio, television or the Internet and to speak to outsiders.

Utah lawyer Rod Parker has represented reclusive prophet Warren Jeffs and other members of the sect Jeffs leads. He says the bill results from misinformation and stereotyping by those who aim to destroy the church.

The F-L-D-S is one of several groups that split from the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the decades after it renounced polygamy in 1890.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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