Gov. Whitmer updates legislation on banning child marriage

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 9:39 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -Governor Gretchen Whitmer built on a previous legislation she signed in July to help protect minors in Michigan by banning child marriage.

The bills raise the minimum age of consent for marriage to 18 and update laws to effectively implement the child marriage ban.

“Keeping Michiganders safe and healthy is one of my top priorities, and today’s bipartisan bills will build on our efforts to protect young people—especially young women—from abuse,” said Governor Whitmer. “As a county prosecutor, I went after those who used their power to prey on young people, and as governor, I am proud to sign legislation to strengthen protections for children and survivors into law. Together, we can make Michigan a safe, welcoming state where you can grow up and pursue your potential.”

House Bill 4294, sponsored by Rep. Kara Hope, D–Lansing, establishes 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage.

House Bill 4295, sponsored by Rep. Alabas Farhat, D–Dearborn, prohibits secret child marriages, which are done when a marriage record is sealed to the public.

“It’s time for us to ban the cruel practice of child marriage,” said Farhat. “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.”

House Bill 4296, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Coffia, D–Traverse City, is a grandfather law that ensures minors who are currently married do not lose their spousal benefits under the new laws.

“There are many aspects of our society that we restrict to legal adults—voting, signing contracts and more. It’s well past time for marriage to join that list,” said Coffia. “Not only is this action the right thing to do to protect children from predators, it’s just common sense.”

The governor intends to sign the final bill in this package, House Bill 4302, upon presentation. House Bill 4302, sponsored by Rep. Joey Andrews, D–St. Joseph, modifies references to married minors in the Michigan penal code.

“As a new father, I share in the worries of every parent, the foremost of which is making sure my daughter is safe and healthy. Banning child marriage is an overdue step in that direction,” said Andrews. “Child marriage is the domain of sexual predators and their enablers, and I’m proud to be part of erasing it from Michigan statute.”

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