10 Bipartisan Bills Passed, Including Raising Marriage Age to 18
LANSING, Mich. (June 22, 2023) – Today, the Michigan Senate voted nearly unanimously to pass Senate Bills 209–217, 246, which would establish 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage in Michigan. These bills, led by Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) with bipartisan support, aim to protect Michigan minors from being coerced or forced into traumatic and frequently dangerous marriages with adults.
“Child marriage has led to the abuse of thousands of children in our state,” said Sen. Anthony. “When I first introduced a bill to end child marriage in 2018, it was quickly shelved by legislative leaders. Since then, we have continued to hear stories of abuse from survivors. Today, the Senate took action to bring our state one step closer to ending this archaic practice.”
Currently, 16- and 17-year-old children in Michigan can marry with permission from a parent or guardian, and children can marry at any age with both parental and judicial approval. As it stands, this law allows for the all-to-common union of young children and adults in marriage. Based on a comprehensive analysis of marriage license data by the advocacy organization Unchained at Last, 5,259 children were married in Michigan between 2000 and 2018, some as young as 14. Of these cases, roughly 83% were girls wed to adult men.
These bills would establish 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage, prohibit judges from issuing a marriage certificate for individuals under marriageable age, void a marriage involving a minor performed after the effective date of the law, and eliminate the right to marry for emancipated minors.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on these bills on May 18, 2023, Sen. Anthony was joined by: Fraidy Reiss, Founder/Executive Director, Unchained at Last; Michele Hanash, Director of Policy and Women’s Programs, AHA Foundation; Cheryl Hall, Zonta International District 15; Nina Van Harn, a forced marriage survivor; and Courtney Kosnik, child marriage survivor. These women shared their perspectives and painful personal experiences in advocating for Sen. Anthony’s legislation to change the law and better protect young girls and all children from these practices. Video of the committee hearing and these women’s testimony can be found here.