Senate bills would end child marriage in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones and Sen. Margaret O’Brien have introduced legislation to prohibit children under the age of 16 from getting married in Michigan.

“I am outraged that a parent would allow their 14-year-old daughter to be married to an older man,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It is unbelievable that this is even allowed in our state, since the age of consent for sex is 16. This legislation will end this archaic law and have Michigan’s age for marriage mirror the legal age of consent.”

The bills are the result of a TV report about a woman who was married at the age of 14 in West Michigan. The report highlighted Michigan law — dating back to the 1880s — that currently permits children younger than 16 to get married with parental consent and judicial approval.

“I was shocked to learn that Michigan law somehow permits the marriage of young girls and boys under the age of 16,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “While we have made great progress to protect minors from sexual assault, from predators like Larry Nassar and from human traffickers, it is clear that more must be done to protect our children.”

Senate Bill 1255 would end any marriages with minors under the age of 16 by establishing age 16 as the minimum age to marry in Michigan.

SB 1256 would require 16- and 17-year-olds to have written permission from both living parents to get married. Under the current law, written permission is only needed from one parent.

The bills are expected to be taken up on Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Jones.