West Virginia Under 16 Marriage Ban Bill – Boston News, Weather, Sports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A child marriage bill is going to the West Virginia governor’s desk after lawmakers approved allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with restrictions.

The House of Delegates passed the bill 83-9 without debate on Saturday, a day after the Senate easily approved it after making changes to an earlier House version. Republican Gov. Jim Justice has not publicly indicated whether he will sign it.

Currently, children in West Virginia can marry as young as 16 with parental consent, and anyone younger, regardless of age, can marry by waiver.

The law, passed on Saturday, would eliminate the possibility for anyone under the age of 16 to get married. The 16 and 17-year-olds would have to get parental consent and they could not marry anyone more than four years older than them. Existing legal marriages, including those contracted in other states, remained unaffected.

The bill was presumed dead Wednesday night when the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected it, but the bill was revived by Senator Charles Trump in the Senate on Thursday and went to the final vote on Friday. Saturday was the last day of the legislative period.

Some Democrats, including Del. Kayla Young, the bill’s backer, had hoped to abolish child marriage altogether, while some Republicans spoke about how they or their parents married before adulthood and that such marriages protect families.

Young said the bill would likely have died had it not been for the Senate amendment. She said ahead of the House vote that she was pleased the law barred those under the age of 16 from marrying and banned major age differences.

“This is a big step in protecting our youngest children,” Young said on Twitter.

According to non-profit group Unchained At Last, which works to end forced and child marriage, seven states have set the minimum age for marriage at 18 since 2018. Supporters of such legislation say it will reduce domestic violence and unwanted pregnancies and improve the lives of teenagers.

According to the Pew Research Center, West Virginia had the highest rate of child marriages among the states in 2014, when the state’s five-year average was 7.1 marriages per 1,000 children ages 15-17. Current figures were not available.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed, or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/bill-banning-marriages-under-age-16-passes-in-west-virginia/ West Virginia Under 16 Marriage Ban Bill – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Sarah Y. Kim

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