Michigan passes law banning minors from getting married 

Michigan just passed a law that would ban people under the age of 18 from getting married. 

State representative 38th House District Joey Andrews of St. Joseph fully supported the new law to protect minors from possibly being forced into marriages they did not consent to.

“First of all, it’s surprising we’re the only 10th state. You would think this would be a more widespread ban at this point,” Andrews said. When the issue first came up to us, that was our response, ‘how is this not already yet legal?’ It’s because I think everyone just assumes that it is at this point in history. So, it was easy enough on the criminal justice end to take up.”  

The new law raises the minimum age to be married in the state of Michigan to 18. The state previously allowed minors to wed with written permission from a parent or legal guardian.  

The law is not retroactive, so it does not have any effect on anyone married in the past.

Andrews says after speaking with different advocacy organizations, it’s something that can make a really big difference for girls subject to abuse, sexual assault and trafficking.

One of those groups is Unchained at Last, a non-profit based in New Jersey dedicated to ending end forced and child marriages. According to the organization, between 2000 and 2021, more than 5,400 minors were married in Michigan. Founder Fraidy Reiss says the new law is a step in the right direction.   

“This is a huge victory for girls and anyone who cares about girls because we’re finally ending a human rights abuse that just destroys girls lives and creates a nightmare legal trap for them,” Reiss said. 

Reiss says helping states pass this law is part of their philosophy.  

“We’ve been working since 2015 to try to get every state to ban child marriage. When we first started, the number was zero. And we have been there in every state that passed the legislation. We have been there working with our allies, making it happen. And each time, it’s like giving birth because that’s how difficult it is to get these bills out of the legislature.”  

Reiss says she hopes every other state without a law like this already follows Michigan's lead.

“Moving forward, there are 40 US states that need to take a look at what Michigan did. Michigan is passing simple, common-sense legislation that harms no one. It costs nothing and it ends human rights abuse. Every state needs to do the same thing.” 

Andrews says it's all about protecting the most vulnerable.  

“I think it’s another layer of protection for our kids. We agree pretty much broadly that young people need additional protection. They're not able to make decisions like adults can. Their brains haven’t fully formed yet. This I think will go a long way in protecting, particularly young women, from being taken advantage of.”  

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