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Legal Victories in Child Marriage

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

June 4, 2019

Georgia has strengthened its protection of children. Is this a legal victory? No, but it is a vast improvement. At Global Hope 365, we consider legal protections for all children to be true legal victories. We support the adoption of legislation that restricts marriage to a contract between two consenting adults at a minimum age 18. These laws are called “No Child Marriage, No Exceptions” laws. It is the “Exceptions” part of laws that allow children to be vulnerable to forced or coerced marriage. Many states, including California, allow for marriage under the age of 18, with parental consent and/or judicial consent. Unfortunately, parental consent and judicial consent have allowed for vulnerable children to be married into legal contracts which take away their rights to sovereignty and make children vulnerable to abusive marriages.

Progress versus victories.

As of June 2019, only New Jersey and Delaware have achieved that milestone, setting forth a wave of momentum to strengthen laws across the United States. Twenty-seven states currently have no minimum age for when children can get married. Any laws that raise the minimum age to marry are progress but are not considered full victories. As you can see from the timeline below, momentum has been building nationwide. First on the East coast with the wave lapping at Nevada. Unfortunately, California did not make the cut. A severely watered-down bill passed the California state legislature in Summer 2018. That bill includes dangerous exceptions which allow children to marry with parental consent. Despite the optimism, the final bill in Nevada came to a similar fate.

  • March 2018: Florida raises the minimum age to marry to age 17.

  • May 2018: Delaware becomes the first state to ban Child Marriage full stop with the nation’s first “No Child Marriage, No exceptions” law.

  • June 2018: New Jersey becomes the second state to ban Child Marriage. Former Governor, Chris Christie had vetoed the bill in May 2017.

  • April 2019: A “No Child Marriage, No Exceptions” Bill passes the House in the state of Nevada. Nevada would become the first state in the west to pass such a bill.

  • May 2019: Georgia raises the minimum age to marry to 17.

  • May 2019: Legislation that would prohibit child marriage in Pennsylvania before the age of 18 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and can now be considered by the full House.

  • May 2019: The Bill in Nevada is watered down to allow children to marry at age 17.

  • June 2019: AB139 passes the Nevada Senate and is sent to the Governor. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray tweeted “While the bill is not perfect, it will end all marriage in NV for all children under the age of 17.”

At Global Hope 365, we will continue to advocate for protections for all minors from Child Marriage. Updates will be posted to our blog and shared in our newsletter.

We congratulate our friend, fierce advocate, Sherry Johnson, (pictured in the Georgia State Capitol building) for her sharing her voice and her role in passing legislation in Florida and Georgia.

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