This summer, the California state legislature passed SB 273, a bill that was originally created to ban marriage under the age of 18. Though the AHA Foundation supported the bill’s initial construction, amendments to the text have made it, at best, ineffective and, at worst, more harmful to some California minors. SB 273 has not fixed major loopholes that leave California’s youngest and most vulnerable at risk of forced and child marriage.
California lacks a minimum age requirement to marry, allowing a judge to approve marriage at any age. SB 273 does nothing to change this, which is unacceptable. Marriage is a legal contract that should be reserved for those who can enjoy the rights and safeguards made available by reaching adulthood. If an adult experiences abuse from their partner, he or she can seek legal help and protection. Minors face significant legal and practical barriers if they try to leave home, enter a domestic violence shelter, retain an attorney, or file a legal action such as divorce.
Child marriage is a reality in the U.S. It is estimated that between the years 2000 and 2010 nearly 250,000 children as young as 12 were married in the United States, with most of these marriages being between female minors and adult men. SB 273 will allow countless cases to go unnoticed and minors to remain unprotected in California.
Take a stand with us and call for a veto of SB 273.
The AHA Foundation advocates that a strict minimum age to marry be set to 18, California’s age of majority, without exceptions. We have asked Governor Brown to veto SB 273 and for the California legislature to craft a new bill that protects our children in earnest. We encourage you to do the same.
Time is running out to have our voices heard. Governor Brown has an opportunity to veto the bill until the end of September. After that, this legislation will pass and we will lose our chance to protect children in California who are at risk of forced marriage and suffer in silence.
Please help us take a stand against child and forced marriage and call for a veto of SB 273.
Information on how to contact Governor Brown’s office can be found here.
Find our letter to Governor Brown here.
Thank you for joining forces to protect children from forced marriage in your home state of California.
Number of Women and Girls At Risk: 25,000
Status: Existing Legislation Needs Strengthening
Improve by adding: Prosecuting parents/guardian, felony offense