The State Senate today passed legislation co-sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) that would close loopholes allowing child marriage to occur in Pennsylvania.
Langerholc said Senate Bill 81 would eliminate all legal exceptions that allow for the marriages of children under the age of 18. Pennsylvania is currently one of 18 states that does not specify a minimum age at which a person can be married.
“Child marriage is abuse. These children have been lost in the dark and it’s about time we found them,” Langerholc said. “This bill is a ‘child protection’ bill, ensuring children’s’ lives aren’t damaged or endangered by such a major decision at a young age.”
Current Pennsylvania law allows for those under 18 to marry with a custodial parent or guardian’s consent and those under 16, to marry if a judge thinks it’s in the marriage license applicant’s best interest and with parental consent.
According to Unchained at Last, an organization that works to end child marriages, children who are forced into marriage before the age of 18 face lifelong, devastating consequences in terms of health, education, economic opportunities, and quality of life.
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