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Advocates push for ban on child marriage in Michigan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Groups supporting a ban on child marriages in Michigan are renewing their call on the Legislature to take action on a package of bills to outlaw the practice.

In January, Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) introduced legislation (House Bills 4003-4005) to make 18 the minimum age of consent for marriage, with no exemptions. 

Current state law allows parents to give consent for their 16 and 17-year-old child to marry.   The law also contains an exemptions that could allow children 15-years-old and younger to marry with permission from a Probate Court.

Anthony’s legislation would eliminate those exemptions. 

Despite having bipartisan support, Anthony says her bills have not yet had a hearing in the state House Judiciary committee.

“I want to be optimistic that it’s just a matter of a lot of bills going through the committee as opposed to a level of prioritization,” Anthony said.   

Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham Filler expects progress on the legislation soon.    Through a spokesman, Filler says other bill sponsors are still “ironing out some details.”

By one estimate, between 2000 and 2015, over 200,000 minors were legally married in the United States.

Child marriages are often tied to cultural and religious beliefs.   Marriages involving minors are also associated with teen pregnancy and potential legal issues. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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