New Hampshire police who called teen 'mature' doesn't apologize to his 'haters'

The New Hampshire lawmaker, who called teenagers “mature” and “fertile,” said the uproar over his comments was an overreaction and that he would not apologize to the “haters.”

Representative Jess Edwards sparked national outrage when she rejected a bill that would raise the marriage age from 16 to 18, saying in the House of Representatives that banning marriage for people of “mature, fertile age” could lead to more abortions .

In an interview with The Daily Beast on Tuesday night, Edwards said using the word “mature” was a mistake but that he didn't deserve the hundreds of emails he received calling him a pedophile and worse become.

“I wrote incorrectly. It was an inappropriate word,” he said. “But because I have this avalanche of hate, I really don't want to apologize in light of that because I don't want to encourage that behavior to the next guy who says the wrong word.”

“By giving in to the whole mob, I don’t want to feed the beast,” he added. “I don’t feel like apologizing to the haters.”

Edwards, a Republican who is in the middle of his fourth term, added that he apologized to those in attendance at a GOP meeting in town Tuesday night for “causing such a stir.”

“They all basically just thanked me loudly for eight years of service and my leadership in the state and the things that I’ve accomplished,” he said.

The child marriage bill passed the House of Representatives last week despite Edwards' protests and now heads to Gov. Chris Sununu for his signature. Most US states allow marriage at age 16 in some cases, but New Hampshire and Maine are the only states in the Northeast that allow it.

Backlash to Edwards' comments quickly followed, with state Rep. Wendy Thomas (D) writing on , because they are “ripe and fruitful.”

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the party's state campaign arm, called his comments “abhorrent and inexcusable” and urged voters to choose Democrats who “do not have abhorrent views on child marriage and instead defend our reproductive freedoms.”

Representative Alissandra Murray was among those who condemned Edwards. She posted a video of his remarks on Twitter and wrote: “I'm tired of being called a bootlegger when Republicans are the ones dreaming of 'fertile' teenagers and calling for legal child marriage.”

“Groomer” is an insult often used by members of right-wing communities to describe queer or trans people and to imply that they sexually abuse minors. Murray, who is transgender and uses they/them pronouns, said they had previously been called “groomers” by other House members and wanted to point out Edwards' “hypocrisy.”

“I find it absolutely appalling to see the language used by leading Republicans to accuse minors of marrying what is essentially their rapist … because they think it's better than abortion,” Murray told The Daily Beast.

“You see them restricting access to abortion and birth control, so this agenda around child marriage is really scary in that context,” they added.

Murray tweeted on Tuesday a screenshot of an email Edwards sent them last week in which he accused them of making “extreme remarks” about his comments.

“It had nothing to do with 'Groomers,'” Edwards wrote. “That’s a sick observation from Alissandra.”

Edwards also called on Murray to apologize, but told The Daily Beast that the demand was in reference to a Reddit post that he claimed showed Murray urging people to put him on state watch lists. He declined to provide a link to the post and Murray said they did not make such a post.

Murray also said there would be no apology.

“I can’t believe he even asked for this, given the treatment I’ve received since being elected,” they said.

Edwards was elected in 2016 to the Rockingham 31 District, which includes the cities of Chesterfield, Auburn, Candia and Deerfield. He is a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose views lean more libertarian and was involved in the Free State Project, a movement that encourages libertarians to move to New Hampshire to establish a stronghold there.

The lawmaker said Tuesday that his defense of under-18 marriage was consistent with his belief in letting people “make their own decisions.” He added that he supported funding for Medicaid and family resource centers and supported an amendment granting an exception to New Hampshire's 24-week abortion deadline for fatal fetal anomalies and threats to the mother's life.

“I am on record a pro-choice advocate from the perspective of abortion in New Hampshire, I have been a pro-choice advocate when it comes to funding the social services necessary to support a welfare system, and that's the way it is Third leg of this chair is exit. “Marriage as an option,” he said.

He also noted that 38 states still allow minors to marry under certain circumstances, and that he had previously voted several times to raise the marriage age in New Hampshire.

“I actually think I’m taking an extremely rational, logical and defensible position,” he said.

Edwards has also defended his position on Facebook in recent days, boasting in a post Monday that he “continues to educate people about the value of individual freedom in the face of humanity.” [sic] an army of control freaks who would rather trick a pregnant woman into having an abortion than allow her to get married.”

“The culture of death is stronger than any healthy society should wish,” he added.

Edwards has previously posted anti-trans comments on Facebook, including a meme in which he compares trans women who wear makeup to white people who wear blackface.

In another post on Monday, Edwards appeared to joke about his “mature and fertile” comments by reposting a video of a very young girl talking about a plastic skeleton and writing, “Not fertile.” Edwards told The Daily Beast , he refers to the skeleton.

He later changed the post's caption to read: “Even a little girl can tell that a woman's anatomy is designed differently than a man's. “We are designed to be compatible, not equal.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Anna Harden

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