A bill proposed by multiple Pennsylvania representatives seeking to end child marriages in the state before the age of 18 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
The bill now moves to the Full House.
“We must not allow opportunities for children to be coerced or forced into marriage,” said State rep. Jesse Topper. “This bill is quite simply a child protection bill, and I’m proud to support it along with my colleagues.”
Under current state law, applicants younger than 16 can be issued a marriage license with court approval. Applicants between the ages 16 and 18 can be issued a marriage license with the consent of a parent or guardian.
“When I speak about this bill, invariably someone asks, child marriage – is that a thing,” said State Rep. Perry Warren. “It is, and it is time to set the age at 18 to protect childrenin Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania is one of 27 states that do not specify an age below which a child cannot marry.
According to data from 2000-2010, studies reveal that more than 167,000 children were married. Some applicants were as young as 12, to spouses 18 or older.
Pennsyvania would become the third state to ban child marriages if the bill is passed.