Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed part of a legislative package that will end child marriage in Michigan by setting the legal age for marriage at 18 without exceptions.
When the legislature returns from summer recess, it must vote to pass the remaining bills that will complete the package to end child marriage: House Bills 4294, 4295, 4296, and 4302. Once these are passed and signed, Michigan will become the 10th state to completely end child marriage and the third state to end child marriage this year, after Connecticut and Vermont.
Prior to this reform, Michigan was one of just six states with no minimum marriage age – children of any age could marry in Michigan if statutory exceptions were met. A single parent could consent to the marriage of older minors, and younger children could be married with a judge’s permission. These laws allowed over 5,000 children to marry in Michigan from 2000 to 2014.
“With these reforms, Michigan will advance from being one of the worst-offenders to a leader in the campaign to end child marriage. Michigan’s victory will also be an important marker for the national movement to end child marriage, with 1 in 5 states having now ended child marriage,” said Alex Goyette, Public Policy Manager at the Tahirih Justice Center.
Tahirih is proud to have supported this legislation for several years, and to have successfully advocated for carefully crafted amendments that ensured the complex suite of legislation did not cause inadvertent harm to the children it sought to protect.
We are grateful to the bipartisan group of legislators who championed this legislation to end child marriage, and to the survivors and advocates who supported the campaign from the beginning.
Once Michigan passes the remaining legislation, we hope their leadership will inspire the other 40 states that currently allow child marriage to follow suit, and end child marriage across the United States.
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