The year 2015 was when the United States realized it had a child marriage problem and started talking about it.
Between 2000 and 2018, almost 300,000 children under the age of 18 were legally married in the United States — 78 percent of them minor girls wedded to adult men. While the vast majority were 16 and 17 year olds married to men an average of four years older than they were, there were some pretty jarring exceptions. In 2001 in Tennessee, three 10-year-old girls were married to men 24, 25 and 31. In Alabama, a 14-year-old girl was married to a 74-year-old man.
Since 2018, thanks to the work of anti-child marriage advocacy organization Unchained at Last, seven states have outlawed all marriage before the age of 18 — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts, along with the territories of American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. In most other states, the minimum age for marriage is 16, though there is proposed legislation to raise the age to 18. Eight states, however, have no minimum at all. Those states are California, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. An actual toddler could get married in those states and it would be legal.
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