Is Childhood Marriage in Michigan About to Come to an End?
Unbelievably, child marriage is still legal here in Michigan. But that practice may finally be coming to an end here in our state.
No Age Limit
Under current Michigan law, children who are 16 and 17 years old can be legally married with the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Children under the age of 16 can tie the knot with written parental consent and permission from a judge who's willing to sign off on the marriage.
In 2022, Human Rights Watch gave Michigan a failing grade when it comes to protecting the rights of children, in part due to our lax laws regarding child marriage.
According to Mlive, more than 5,400 minors were married in the 11-year period between 2000 and 2021 in Michigan. Among that group were 11 children who were 15 years old and one minor who was 14. According to state records, 90 percent of those teenagers who got married were girls.
Married at 14
Fraidy Reiss was married at the age of 14. (You can read Ms. Reiss' story here.) Today, as the founder of Unchained at Last, Reiss is working to end childhood marriage.
"We’re giving get-out-of-jail-free cards to child rapists," Reiss told a Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
Michigan Law May Be About to Change
This week, the Michigan Legislature passed bills that would put an end to childhood marriage in our state.
On Wednesday (6/21), the Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of bills that would ban child marriage. Five Republican Representatives voted against the bills.
Today (6/22) the State Senate passed its own set of bills including legislature that would put an end to childhood marriage.
One Last Hurdle
Now, the State Senate and House have to approve of the other's bill packages in order to move the legislation to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's desk. for approval.
If approved, Michigan would finally put an end to child marriage and would allow no one under the age of 18 to get married.