State Reps. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), Kara Hope (D-Holt), Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) joined together to introduce a bipartisan package of bills aimed at prohibiting child marriage in Michigan. Under current Michigan law, 16 and 17 year-old children are able to marry with permission from a parent or guardian, and children can marry at any age with both parental and judicial approval.
Based on a comprehensive analysis of marriage license data by the advocacy organization Unchained at Last, 5,259 children were married in Michigan between 2000 and 2018, some as young as 14. Of these cases, roughly 83% were girls wed to adult men.
“Across the board, we have seen devastating long term socio-economic and health-related consequences for young girls who are married,” said Anthony. “This is now my third session introducing these bills with no legislative action taken. Every year that we delay, more children will be forced or coerced into marriage. We need to stop this dangerous practice, and we need to stop it now.”
Collectively, the legislation would establish 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage, prohibit judges from issuing a marriage certificate for individuals under marriageable age, void a marriage involving a minor performed after the effective date of the law, and eliminate the right to marry for emancipated minors.
A diverse array of stakeholder organizations across the state share their support for protecting Michigan’s children from current marriage laws, including:
- Michigan’s Children
- MI Nurses Association
- National Association of Social Workers-Michigan
- UNICEF USA
- The Michigan’s Women Commission
- Child and Family Services
- Child Labor Coalition
- More than 30 Zonta Club chapters from across Michigan