Gov. Whitmer Signs Final Bill in Package Protecting Children, Officially Banning Child Marriage in Michigan.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the final bill in a package of legislation to protect minors in Michigan by raising the minimum age of consent for marriage to 18 years old. The package builds on previous legislation the governor signed earlier this year and makes Michigan the 10th state in the country to ban child marriage.

“I am committed to keeping Michiganders especially young women safe and healthy, and today’s bipartisan bill fully implements Michigan’s ban on child marriage,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “As a county prosecutor, I went after those who used their power to prey on young people, and as governor, I have proudly signed legislation to keep young people safe and protect sexual assault survivors. Together, we can make Michigan a safe, welcoming place where everyone can envision a bright future for themselves.”

HB 4302 modifies various parts of the Michigan Penal Code to delete any reference to a spouse under age 16, bringing the Code in line with legislation banning child marriage in Michigan.

“Protecting children is paramount to me, both as a legislator and a father,” said state Representative Joey Andrews (D-St.Joseph), sponsor of HB 4302. “My colleagues and I have demonstrated that with the bills we’ve passed this term that keeping kids safe is a critical issue, and I’m proud to be part of that effort by sponsoring this bill.”

“I am proud that Michigan has taken the historic step to end child marriage in our state,” said state Senator Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “I want to thank the survivors and activists that have been in the arena with me since 2018 to push our state to end child marriage. Standing up for our children should be a nonpartisan issue, but for too long our children, particularly our young girls, have suffered because of this archaic practice. By signing these bipartisan bills into law, we are safeguarding our youth and sending a strong message that child abuse in any form is not tolerated in our state.”

“I’m elated that children in Michigan will be protected from the archaic, abusive practice of child marriage,” said state Representative Kara Hope (D-Lansing). “It’s been a long road here, but with Sen. Anthony’s leadership and the support of advocates, we got it done.”

“Michigan’s former law permitted child marriage with one parent’s permission or if younger than 16, a judge’s approval. Both exceptions created conditions that make educational achievement, satisfying future domestic lives, and economic independence less likely, especially for girls”, stated Sheila Blair, President of the American Association of University Women of Michigan.

“In this century, over 5,400 children were married in Michigan, some as young as 14. Ninety-five percent were girls wed to adult men an average of 4.3 years older. Girls represent 86% of the minor children who were married in the United States. These new laws will bring girls increased educational and economic opportunities.”

“30 years after my own life as a high school girl was cut short, I am proud to see Michigan become the 10th state to ban child marriage,” said Courtney Kosnik, survivor and advocate. “The rights of children are not for sale, and the outdated and misguided practice of child marriage will not be tolerated any longer in Michigan. Thank you to everyone who has worked tirelessly to pass laws here in Michigan and in other states. We are not done, and we will fight on to keep children safe from marriage under the age of adulthood.”

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