A New Hampshire teen advocating for more than year to end child marriage in her state has gotten one step closer as the governor signed a bill raising the minimum age to marry to 16.
Cassandra Levesque, 19, was at a Girl Scout senior leadership conference when she learned that children are still legally allowed to marry in many places in the U.S.
“We were learning about different kinds of human trafficking and one of the things that were brought up was child marriage,” she told InsideEdition.com
She researched the laws on the books in her home state and found that girls as young as 13 and boys as young as 14 were allowed to wed with the permission of their parents and a judge.
“I realized, ‘I want to change this,’” she said.
So, she did.
Levesque contacted Rep. Jacalyn Cilley, who agreed with work with her on changing the law.
The process was arduous, but two years and one failed attempt later, Levesque was there as Gov. Chris Sununu signed three bills — two of which were sponsored by Cilley and one that was sponsored by Rep. Amanda Gourgue — into law raising the minimum age to marry for both boys and girls to 16.
“It was very exciting because, I had my grandmother there, I had all my team there — I was very excited to get this passed,” Levesque said. “I was very proud of myself.”
She hopes her accomplishments would inspire other young people to get involved in politics.
“So many of our youths are the future and generations younger than me they are the future,” she said.
Levesque was awarded the Girl Scout’s Gold Award for her advocacy work, but she’s far from content with things as they currently stand.
“I’m still going to fight to push it to 18,” she said of the minimum age to marry. “Teens … their brains are still developing. They are still kids.”
Levesque is also looking forward to begin studying at Southern New Hampshire University, which has given her a full scholarship as she pursues a degree in political science.
“Cassie is an extraordinary young woman and we want to recognize her leadership, while giving her the tools and education she can use to positively shape the world,” Paul LeBlanc, president of the university, said in a statement. “SNHU embraces women’s leadership and empowerment, and we welcome Cassie as a member of the SNHU community.”
Levesque is also preparing to run for elected office, as she readies to campaign for the retiring Cilley’s seat in the state House of Representatives. Though she is up against four other candidates, including a fellow Democrat, Levesque is confident she’s the right woman for the job.
“I want to keep fighting for child marriage and women and children’s issues,” she said. “A lot of women need to have their voices heard. Children aren’t getting their voices heard. We need to fight for our children."