LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s governor has signed bills effectively outlawing child marriage and repealing a law banning cohabitation of unmarried couples.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed eight bills Tuesday that bans the marriage of individuals under the age of 18, repeals the law making cohabitation of unmarried people illegal and changes several other laws related to child marriage.
The eight-bill package includes:
Almost all of the bills passed with an overwhelming majority of bipartisan support, with only a few house GOP members voting no.
Senate Bill 56 was the only contested bill, with nine senate members voting no and 26 members of the house in opposition.
The remainder of the bills focused on child marriage only saw nay votes from five GOP members in the state house. Steve Cara of District 36, Matt Maddock of District 51, Angela Rigas of District 79, Josh Schriver of District 66 and Neil Friske of District 107 all voted no to those seven bills.
West Michigan Representative Angela Rigas, defended her opinion in an article on her personal website arguing that the government should not interfere with an individual’s decision to get married.
Whitmer signed all of the bills Tuesday, and they take effect immediately.
Michigan’s ban on child marriage follows on the heels of Connecticut’s decision to outlaw the practice in June.
According to Unchained at Last, a survivor-led nonprofit organization dedicated to ending forced and child marriage, Michigan is the 10th state in the United States to completely ban the practice of child marriage.
A study performed by the non-profit shows that there were nearly 300,000 minors married between 2000 and 2018, with 5,259 in Michigan.
The youngest age of a marriage on record during that time period was 10, with the vast majority of child marriages (96%) including at least one individual being 16 or 17.
Prior to this legislation being passed, Michigan had no minimum age for marriage. Minors aged 16-17 required parental consent and minors aged under 16 required parental and judicial consent.
Number of Women and Girls At Risk: 25,000
Status: Existing Legislation Needs Strengthening
Improve by adding: Prosecuting parents/guardian, felony offense