No, It Is Not Illegal To Marry A Virgin In Guam

This is hardly how I wanted to break a two-month absence from my blogging work. I was hoping for some notes on the new Pope Francis, or that I’d finally finish my thought experiment on rape and rebuttable presumption, or perhaps write the post on Why Occupy Wall Street Is Exactly Wrong that I founded this blog to write.

But I haven’t had time for all that. Or any of it. I have, however, had time to encounter this stupid infographic that’s been making the rounds on the internet.  I have not, thank God, had the time to research all of its insane claims, but I was so taken aback by the clear falsity of its first claim that I took five minutes to look it up.  Here is the claim, for the JPEG-averse among you:

There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time.  Reason: Under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry.

Needless to say, the claim is totally false.  But, very much to my surprise, there was no clear debunking thread anywhere online.  The infographic had slipped beneath the notice even of the notoriously eagle-eyed Snopes, meriting only an unhelpful “Is this true?” question thread on their forums.

So, I looked it up myself.  Here is a link to the marriage laws of Guam.  The law of Guam in fact states nearly the opposite:

§ 3106. Release, Generally.
Neither party to a contract to marry is bound by a promise made in ignorance of the other’s want of personal chastity, and either is released there from by unchaste conduct on the part of the other unless both parties participate therein.

In other words, if you are not a virgin at marriage in Guam, and your spouse doesn’t know about it, it is grounds for annulment.  The civil government will not only dissolve your marriage, like it does in a normal divorce, but goes further and declares the marriage invalid from its inception.  So remember, people: if you plan to get married in Guam, be honest with your spouse about your sexual history.  It’s always a good idea, but, in Guam, it’s also the law.

Next time, hopefully a more serious post.  For now, know that I am not dead.

EDIT 1 August 2013: My original reading of the statutes led me to believe that §3106 referred to engagements, not marriages.  The penultimate paragraph originally read,  “In other words, if you are not a virgin at marriage in Guam, it is grounds for your fiancee to break off his engagement with you — and the law will back him up 100%!”  A comment caused me to take another look at the statute today, and I realized that I was wrong.  

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