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Massachusetts is one step closer to banning child marriage

Published Monday, May. 23rd, 2022

The Massachusetts State House in Boston

Last week, members of the MA House of Representatives passed legislation to ban the marriage of children under the age of 18 within the Commonwealth. The bill now moves to the Senate, and will face a final debate in the House-Senate Conference Committee.


First introduced as House Bill 1709, “An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts,” this legislation was adopted and passed as part of House Bill 4701 / Amendment S.4 during the Fiscal Year 2023 House Budget debate. 


The relevant amendments read: 


Section 7. A magistrate or minister shall not solemnize a marriage if a party to the intended marriage is under the age of 18.


Section 24. The clerk or registrar shall not receive a notice of the intention of marriage of a person under the age of 18.


Section 33A. The clerk or registrar shall not issue a certificate under section 28 before receiving proof of age of the parties and verifying that both parties are not less than 18 years of age. 


It passed unanimously. 


Rep. Kay Khan, who presented the original bill (H1709), spoke in favor of changing the law:


“If you are a married child and you are still a minor, you do not have adult rights. You cannot file for divorce, annulment, protective order, rent an apartment, open a checking account, or seek services from the Department of Children and Families. A minor cannot purchase cigarettes, join the military, vote, or serve on a jury, but in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and 44 other states, they can marry.” (via East Boston Times-Free Press)


Get the full scoop in this article by the East Boston Times-Free Press.



If the law passes, Massachusetts will join several states that have recently revised their marriage laws to limit child marriages. These include North Carolina, which raised the minimum age to marry to 16 years old in August 2021, and New York and Rhode Island, which outlawed all marriages involving individuals under 18 years of age in 2021. 


Legislators in Maryland are currently considering similar legislation, House Bill 83, which would raise the minimum age to marry in the state from 15 to 17 years old. 


Currently, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota are the only states in the US to completely ban the marriage of minors. 



To learn the minimum age to marry in your state, visit: 


How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Married In Each State?





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