CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS) — West Virginia lawmakers passed an amended child marriage bill and OK’d a measure that would limit gender-affirming care for minors as the 2023 legislative session ended Saturday with a last flurry of action.
Both bills are now headed to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk for his consideration.
The child marriage bill was originally intended to ban child marriage, but it was amended in the Senate to allow teens who are 16- or 17-years-old to marry with parental permission, so long as the person is not more than four years older than them.
Currently, children can marry as young as 16 in West Virginia with parental consent, and anyone younger than that regardless of age can get married with a judge’s waiver. The bill passed Saturday would remove the possibility that anyone younger than 16 could marry. Existing legal marriages, including those done in other states, would be unaffected.
Number of Women and Girls At Risk: 25,000
Status: Existing Legislation Needs Strengthening
Improve by adding: Prosecuting parents/guardian, felony offense