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House judiciary turns sites to child marriage bills

Joseph A.

A bill package to end child marriage in Michigan received a first House committee hearing today. Current state law allows parents to consent for their kid to marry at age 16 or older. A judge has to sign off on kids younger than 16.

Fraidy Reese is executive director of the group “Unchained At Last.” She says girls she’s worked with haven’t had any options after their parents signed off on a marriage.

"There is nothing that those girls can do, nothing that those clerks in that situation could do to stop that marriage. And with the judicial review process that’s in place with those 15 and younger with no minimum age specified, there are no criteria that a judge is required to consider before approving a child marriage petition other than the fact that a parent requested it." said Reese.

Aside from banning child marriage… the package would also remove other references to the marriage of minors in state law. Similar bills were introduced last session but never passed either chamber of the Legislature.