Right now, minors over 16 years old can get married (yes, to adults) in Vermont so long as one of the child's parents consents to it. What's even grosser is that this is legal in 43 other states too, and in some of them there is no minimum age for marriage. Now though, if a new bill passes, Vermont will join New York, Massachusetts, and the others in banning child marriage.
"Children need to grow up safe and strong, educated and ready for the future," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Carol Ode (D-Burlington) told the House Judiciary Committee. "They deserve to be free from marriage before they grow up."
Just under 300 children were married in Vermont between 2000 and 2021, 80% of whom were girls, according to data from the Vermont Commission on Women.
Cary Brown, the commission's executive director, explained to the judiciary committee on Feb. 16 that the common perception of child marriage being only between two teenagers is not always true. Almost half of the Vermont girls married underage were married to individuals four or more years older than them, typically grown men.