State legislators in the U.S. can no longer plead ignorance about child marriage in America. Not now that research shows an estimated quarter-million children, at least as young as 10, were married in the United States between 2000 and 2010. National and international news outlets are paying attention.
Yet while several states have moved in recent months to strengthen their laws and raise their marriage age, legal loopholes in all 50 states still allow marriage before 18 – and many state legislators remain unconvinced that they need to end child marriage. Some legislators continue to insist that pregnant girls should marry, despite highly publicized cases of such girls who were forced to marry their own rapists and despite research that shows pregnant teenage girls have better long-term outcomes if they don’t marry.