By Bob Katzen

On July 25, 2019, the Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would ban the marriage of anyone under the age of 18. Current law allows minors to get married if they have parental consent.

“It’s about time Massachusetts ended child marriage, a human rights abuse that destroys girls’ lives and benefits no one other than child rapists,” said Fraidy Reiss, Founder and Executive Director of Unchained At Last, the group behind the ban. “Pennsylvania and Minnesota figured out how to eliminate child marriage during this pandemic. Massachusetts can and must do the same.”

“I learned that child marriages were happening in Massachusetts when I was being interviewed by a journalist in 2016,” co-sponsor Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “Following the publication of that article, I was determined to learn more and connected with national organizations working on the issue. From there, Sen. Harriette Chandler and I filed companion bills in the House and Senate to end child marriage in Massachusetts. Child marriage in our state is more prevalent than people realize. For instance, according to the Massachusetts court case database, a total of nine marriage of minor cases were filed in the Probate and Family Court since January of 2020.”

“There are many conference committee reports still pending and the ever so important fiscal year 2021 budget,” continued Khan. “We are hopeful once those important items are addressed by the Legislature, we will be able to continue our advocacy on this bill.”

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