Children under the age of 18 are legally allowed to marry in the state of Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - While most teenage girls dream of their chance to walk down the aisle, some girls in Michigan are being forced to get married. Now, state lawmakers want to stop it and they’re actively working on bipartisan bills that would ban child marriage.
Democratic state representative Sarah Anthony is spearheading this long-standing bipartisan push to end child marriage.
“When I talk to folks about this issue, the first thing I hear is: ‘kids can get married in Michigan?’ and the answer is yes and there is evidence. Over 5,000 kids since 2000 have gotten married in the state of Michigan,” said Rep. Sarah Anthony.
Anthony says this issue is even more pressing during this time.
“We have so many children during COVID that untracked right now. We don’t want to see an increase in the number of children that are getting married due to economic or health issues,” said Rep. Anthony.
Some children in Michigan have gotten married as young as 14 while 83-percent of them were reportedly young girls who married adult men.
Republican state representative Graham Filler is one of four state representatives joining the effort to pass this legislation.
“Typically, a 14-year-old or 15-year-old female is sort of married off and that can lead to human trafficking late, it can lead to prostitution. Right now, because of the gray area, Michigan can be a destination state for child marriage and so we want to fight against that,” said Rep. Filler.
He says setting the age requirement to 18 will help deter those who have bad intentions.
“If you set some sort of guidelines or guardrails you can say....not in Michigan you don’t get to come here and abuse our laws when it comes to bad actors and younger child marriage,” he said.
Lawmakers feel this age requirement will also stop those who often may get away with sexual abuse.
“Oftentimes, it’s because of a pregnancy. A young child gets pregnant by an older man and what happens is they’re able to skirt some of the legal ramifications for essentially raping a child,” said Rep. Anthony.
It’s all a continued effort to protect the dream of real love and more importantly, the safety of all children in Michigan.
If legislation is passed and the governor signs it, the law would also eliminate the right to marry for emancipated minors.
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