Michigan bans child marriage

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a ban on child marriage in the state. The law removes references to married children in state law, prohibits marrying anyone under the age of 18, prohibits secret marriages (as used to conceal such marriages from public attention) and makes clear any married children whose marriages are dissolved by the law remain entitled to spousal benefits. Human Rights Watch gave Michigan the lowest score of an F on its assessment of the U.S. state's treatment of children in a recent review, singling out child marriage as a key factor.

"It's time for us to ban the cruel practice of child marriage," said state Representative Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), sponsor for HB 4295. "Abusive adults take advantage of minor children, setting them up for a life of torment. It is our duty to protect the children of Michigan, and I'm grateful this legislation is being signed into law."

A number of Republicans voted against the ban on child marriage.

GOP Representatives Steve Carra, Neil Friske, Matt Maddock, Angela Rigas and Josh Schriver all voting against the bill package.

"This is a harsh law based on an ideology that removes reasonable options for any exceptions for people who want to marry before 18—like my wonderful mother-in-law," Maddock said in a statement. … a 17-year-old is mature enough to cut off their penis or breasts and change their biology but are unqualified to make a commitment of marriage?"

Michigan accounted for 5,259 of the 290,000 child marriages reported in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018, which are overwhelmingly between a minor girl and a man more than 4 years older than herself.