CONCORD, N.H. — One day in the middle of September, Cassie Levesque walked up a carpeted hallway toward a committee room in New Hampshire’s capitol complex. Wearing a navy-blue dress and matching mask, with her thick glasses pushed up atop her head, the 22-year-old state lawmaker was prepared for perhaps the most consequential vote of her young career. The Children and Family Law Committee, which she sits on, was about to consider her bill to ban child marriage.
Levesque was hopeful but still unsure of her bill’s chances. All the Democrats on the committee had pledged their support for her bill. But the majority of Republicans hadn’t shown their hand.
Levesque had worked for this day for a long time. In 2017, as a part of a Girl Scout project, she lobbied the New Hampshire legislature to act against child marriage. She was 17, old enough to marry in her state, but not old enough to vote. A year later, Levesque, by then a college freshman, stood next to Gov. Chris Sununu as he signed a law raising New Hampshire’s minimum marriage age to 16 — up from 13 for girls and 14 for boys. “Cassie… really enlightened, I think, the entire state,” the governor said. But to Levesque, the new law was a disappointing compromise. She wanted New Hampshire to become the first state to raise its minimum marriage age to 18, with no exceptions.