MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday will discuss a bill that would define common-law marriage as between a man and a woman only, a move that one Memphis lawmaker called “outrageous.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington), says the law would “give an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage in our law.”

But opponents are targeting House Bill 233 and its Senate companion bill, saying the bills don’t include an age requirement for marriage. Leatherwood has acknowledged that.

Democrats say the bill would open the door to sex abusers and legalize child marriage. Some also say that defining common-law marriage as between a man and a woman is a violation of Constitutional rights upheld in a Supreme Court ruling.

“It’s ugly enough Republicans are advancing an unconstitutional bill to undermine marriage equality, but the fact that this bill reopens the debate on child marriage is outrageous,” Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) said in a statement. “Kids need to be kids — not brides and mothers.”

Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) says the bill could allow people to cover up child abuse, and gets rid of an age limit that “every normal thinking person thinks is appropriate.”

Many Republicans, however, favor the bill.

“It’s very practical,” said Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). “It just declares that the marriage between a man and a woman is not a creation of the state government or its statutes. It is a common law right. And it relieves ministers from having to sign a state certificate of marriage that violates their conscience for the marriage.”

The House bill is scheduled for debate in the Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday. The Senate version, which was recommended by a committee March 22, is scheduled for a full vote on Thursday.