JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One GOP Missouri lawmaker defended a 12-year-old’s right to get married during a debate about anti-transgender care legislation earlier this week.

Missouri State Sen. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) said on the floor Tuesday that he knew at least one person who got married at 12 years old and followed up with a comment of “Guess what, they’re still married.”

State Rep. Aaron Crosley (D-Independence) brought forth attention to Moon’s remarks via Twitter, sharing a video of the floor debate late Wednesday that was largely met with criticism among viewers.

In the video, State Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) was addressing Moon and discussed his support of “parents’ rights to raise their kids how they want.” Merideth then points out that Moon did not want to make it illegal for children at the age of 12 to get married, as long as they had consent of parents.

As the exchange progresses, Moon asks the lawmaker twice, “Do you know any kids who have been married at age 12?” Merideth then replies, “I don’t need to.” Moon then notes, “I do, and guess what, they’re still married.”

On Wednesday, Moon defended his comments via Twitter in a reply to one critic, sharing:

“Something that is often missing is the back story. With regard to my answer, I did not discuss the details: a 12 year old impregnated a minor of similar age. With consent of the parents, they married… and are still married today.”

Another viewer than asks how is that supposed to make it better, to which Moon again replies via Twitter:

You clearly did not understand. Her parents consented – no force. Their marriage is thriving.

The Springfield News-Leader reports on the stance from Moon previously addressed by Meredith, stating that Moon’s support for children to get married with parental consent dates back to at least 2018. He voted “no” on a bill to raise the minimum age to legally get married from 15 to 16, legislation which is now part of Missouri law.

Moon posted a statement Thursday to YouTube titled Setting the Record Straight.

“The vote mentioned was referring to House Bill 1630. This bill intended to raise the age at which minors could legally marry from age 15 to 17. As I contemplated the bill, I was reminded of a couple I’d met years before when this couple was in their teens. Actually, preteens.

They took actions that resulted in the girl becoming pregnant. The youngster’s parents decided to allow the children to marry. They weren’t forced, however, because they were not mature and could not provide for themselves. They grew up with their families in different states. After a number of years, when the children became adults, and were able to care for themselves, they began to living together. The couple is still married today.

So with this in mind, and because allowances for these extreme exceptions were not included in the language, I voted against the bill,” said Moon.

Moon’s remarks came amid discussions about the “Missouri Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act,” which would block healthcare providers from performing gender-transition surgeries on any minor if passed.