A Bill Prohibiting Child Marriage In Washington Is Headed To The Governor’s Desk

(NationalUSNews.com) — The Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, will soon determine whether to sign a new law prohibiting child marriage. Legal experts expect the proposed child marriage ban to pass without any challenges, given the rising trend of child marriage laws throughout the United States. Lawmakers in Washington’s Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported the bill, making the ban on child marriage one of the few bills passed without bipartisan division, causing legal challenges.

Washington’s House of Representatives passed the anti-child marriage bill without opposition in a unanimous decision. Washington’s Senate also overwhelmingly supported the bill, with only one state senator refusing to vote on the provision. The senator who abstained from voting is State Senator Jeff Holy, a Republican representing Spokane. If Inslee approves the proposed law, it will become active in June of this year.

Washington state law permits minors aged 17 to marry, so long as their parents agree. Lawmakers’ proposed prohibition on child marriages would make the required age for marriages 18 years old, preventing any minors within the state from marrying. The bill is the latest instance of a growing anti-child marriage movement, which is rapidly spreading throughout the United States. Since 2018, states have begun banning child marriages, with ten states passing laws similar to Washington’s anti-child marriage bill. Among the states that have banned child marriage are Michigan and New York.

The primary concern regarding child marriage is adults taking advantage of minors, grooming them, and marrying them before they can reach adulthood or make substantial independent life decisions. Another concern is the issue of arranged marriages and spousal abuse, which advocates of anti-child marriage laws claim is reduced through bans on minors’ ability to become married. Advocates of anti-child marriage laws often refer to alarming statistics about minors who become married, such as how more than 250,000 children were married in the United States in less than 20 years. Some of the children included in this demographic were only ten years old.

The proposed ban on child marriages marks the latest step by lawmakers to prevent the abuse of minors, which is more prevalent in cases where a child marries an adult. According to statistics gathered from people who married as children, the overwhelming majority experienced some form of abuse or restriction imposed by their older spouses. Despite the issues surrounding child marriage, other states like Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas all permit the questionable practice.

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