Senate panel OKs bills to end child marriage in Michigan

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Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and Sen. Margaret O’Brien to prohibit children from getting married in Michigan.

As amended and approved by the committee, Senate Bills 1255 and 1256 would end any marriages with minors under the age of 18 by establishing age 18 as the minimum age to marry in Michigan.

“It is outrageous that a parent would allow their 14-year-old daughter to be married to an older man,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It is unbelievable that this is even allowed in our state. This legislation will end this archaic law and have Michigan’s age for marriage mirror the legal age to sign a contract.”

The bills are the result of a TV report about a woman who was married at the age of 14 in West Michigan. The report highlighted Michigan law — dating back to the 1880s — that currently permits children younger than 16 to get married with parental consent and judicial approval.

“I was shocked to learn that Michigan law still allows young girls and boys to be married off to adults,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “We have made great strides to protect Michigan children from sexual predators and human traffickers. These bills will protect them from life-changing decisions until they are old enough to make these decisions for themselves.”

The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.