Washington Might Soon Have a Law Against Child Marriage!


CybersecdnChild marriage, still legal in Washington, may soon face legislative change as the state Senate passes a bill setting a minimum marriage age of 18. The bill, approved on a 48-1 vote, aims to address the prevalence of child marriages, which persist despite legal reforms in other states.

Previously, Washington allowed child marriages with parental consent for individuals as young as 17, with approval from a county judge for younger individuals. However, the proposed ban seeks to eliminate this practice, joining efforts to end child marriage nationwide.

Statistics reveal concerning trends, with over 5,000 child marriages recorded in Washington between 2000 and 2021, predominantly involving underage girls wed to adult men. Advocates for the ban argue that such marriages can enable exploitation and hinder victims’ access to resources and protection from domestic violence.

Washington Might Soon Have a Law Against Child Marriage!

Recent amendments to the bill aimed to address concerns and further strengthen protections for minors. Senator Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, introduced an amendment to allow 17-year-olds to marry with parental approval only if there is “clear, convincing evidence” of the marriage’s voluntariness. However, this amendment failed to garner support from Democrats, who advocate for a blanket ban without exceptions.

Despite bipartisan support for the ban, some dissenting voices, like Senator Jeff Holy, express reservations, citing personal anecdotes and trust in the justice system to discern voluntary marriages. However, advocates stress the importance of unequivocally ending child marriage without exceptions, emphasizing the need to protect vulnerable individuals from exploitation and abuse.

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The bill’s passage in the Senate marks a significant step forward in the fight against child marriage in Washington. With the House having already passed similar legislation in January and Governor Jay Inslee expressing support for efforts to protect children from forced marriages, the ban on child marriages in Washington could soon become law, signaling a critical victory for the protection of minors and the promotion of their rights and well-being.

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