Photo taken from Doug Hutchison's website, showing Hutchison with his new wife, Courtney Stodden. (www.doughutchison.com)
It's not uncommon for people to have a bit of an age gap when they get married. What's a few years when we're talking about love? Usually, not much. But what about 35 years?
Now that's a number. Even more, it's an especially noteworthy number when the younger partner in marriage is just a high school aged teen.
Doug Hutchison is 51. He's an actor who appeared in The Green Mile, The X-Files, 24 and Lost. Hutchison was apparently married for a few years to a woman named Amanda before the couple divorced in 2005.
Courtney Stodden, Hutchinson's child bride, is a 16-year old aspiring country singer. There's not too much to say about Stodden. After all, she's only 16. Crushable reports that Stodden is a beauty pageant queen who did some promotional modeling work for Gold's Gym as well as advertorial work for the Elvis Presley Fan Club. Notably, Stodden is an aspiring country singer, although her self-made video suggests her music genre isn't quite country.
Hutchison and Stodden were married in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sure, Vegas has a reputation for drive-through and spur-of-the-moment weddings, but aren't there rules about a 16-year-old minor consenting to marriage?
In fact, in Nevada, a 16-year-old can legally be married as long as the person has an original or certified copy of their birth certificate and permission from one parent. Which leads me to my next question...
I'm a mom. My son is four and my daughter is almost three. I know that years of real world parenting experience lie ahead of me, but I can say with absolute certainty that if my daughter came to me at 16 and said, "I need your permission to marry a man older than dad" my answer would be a simple, "Oh, heck no!" And that would be followed by panic, possible fainting and then a whole lot of discussion. As for my husband? I don't even want to imagine his reaction.
Instead, according to celebrity gossip reports, Courtney's mom, Krista Stodden, approved of the marriage. "They are very much in love and we are so supportive of this," Krista said. Crazier, Courtney's father Alex Stodden, who is four years younger than his daughter's new hubby, said, "Doug is the nicest man I've ever met in my life."
Maybe Doug Hutchison really is the nicest man Alex Stodden has ever met. Hey, the two could be great golfing buddies. But the last time I checked, dads don't want their golfing buddies to marry their daughters.
Not great, but perhaps more telling of Courtney's family life was Krista Stodden saying that her daughter's breasts are real and she was a virgin when she got married.
Aren't the teen years supposed to be about going to prom, getting your first job, applying for college and socializing with friends? When a 16-year-old gets married, it goes without saying" Normal teen life ends. When a 16-year-old marries a 50-something-year-old? As San Diego mom Stacey Ross says, "Marrying someone who could be your kid seems like ownership, not an ideal partnership."
"We're aware that our vast age difference is extremely controversial," the couple admits. "But we're very much in love and want to get the message out there that true love can be ageless."
True love can probably be ageless when both partners are, you know, legal. And still, I'm not sure that I'd agree that it's entirely ageless. Whether 16 or 18, it's unlikely Stodden would have a lot in common with a 51-year-old.
However, there's something to be said for those two additional years of maturity that occur between 16 and 18. And while I would still be beside myself if a man over 50 married my 18-year-old daughter, the fact is that those two years are the difference between a child and a legal adult.
"Maybe this sounds too judgmental," says Julie C, mom of one. "But I don't see this as love, just pedophilia."
Many parents agree. Karen, who has a daughter, asks, "Aren't there multiple efforts led by American women to protect girls worldwide from child-bride experiences just like this? I see little difference."
Some ponder whether Courtney Stodden is attempting to take a little career shortcut with her marriage to an actor. After all, she doesn't necessarily look 16. (You can view her picture on Stodden's MySapce page). As one commenter on SheKnows said, "She looks way older than that. It'd be interesting if someone could find a birth certificate."
Regardless of her appearance, as long as Stodden really is 16, looking older doesn't change that fact. She's just a young teen...who is now married to a 51-year-old man.
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