Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5442

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE LEGAL AGE TO MARRY IN THIS STATE.

Vote Date:

3/29/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/6/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep Cook, 65th District

Judiciary Committee

Rep. Elliot, 88th District

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

A sixteen year old may marry if they are in the military or pregnant and must have the consent of the individual and parent and a probate court order.

REASONS FOR BILL:

Rep. Cook brought this issue to the attention of the Judiciary Committee. Bill number 5442 is ensures that anyone under the age of eighteen is not legally allowed to get married and are emancipated. This bill will prevent underage forced marriage.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Submitted

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Audrey Blondin: According to Mrs. Blondin, Connecticut is one of 27 states that do not have a minimum age on marriage. Bill 5442 would help keep child marriage from being so prominent in our state to allow for less abuse among child marriages. Girls who marry before age 19 are 50% more likely to drop out of high school and 4 times less likely to graduate college.

Matthew Blondin: An optometrist and a student at UConn in the MPH program. He believes that the marriage of minors has no place in the 21st century. Starting the trend in Connecticut will get the ball rolling.

AHA Foundation: This bill eliminates the exceptions to the marriage age, and reserves marriage, a serious legal contract for those who have reached the age of majority. There are two current exceptions to marriage, children ages 16 and 17 can marry with parental consent, and children 15 and younger with judicial approval and parental consent. In the cases where children request a marriage license, it is hard to tell if there is any parental coercion.

Center for Youth Leadership Stamford Youth Services Bureau, Amanda Barker, Bushra Farook, Mileena Donawa: They are against any type of marriage that involves someone under the age of 18. They bring up statistics about developing countries such as one in three girls will get married before 18 and one in nine will get married before 15. According to Unchained At Last the total number of children wed in America between 2000 and 2010 is estimated around 248,000.

Tahirih Justice Center, Jeanne Smoot Senior Public Policy Counsel: Since the establishment of the Tahirih Justice Center in 1997 more than 20,000 women and children have been helped. HB 5442 sets a clear, straightforward, and easily administrable standard that does not rely on overtaxed judges and court clerks to identify and protect against all the threats a child may be facing to pressure her to marry underage.

Unchained At Last, Fraidy Reiss Founder/Executive Director: The idea of child marriage is not something that has a place in Connecticut. Children are forced into a marriage that they don't want to be a part of. The law currently allows for a marriage under 18 only if there is parental consent. We don't have a process in place to be sure it is parental consent and not parental coercion. HB 5442 will eliminate any sort of child marriage and will make Connecticut a much better state to live in.

Unchained At Last, Hufsa Chaundry: A survivor of a forced marriage. She believed that the justice system is built up to protect anyone from any injustice that can harm them. Suffering through forced marriage after marriage Hufsa thought there was no way out of it. But she was able to escape in the middle of the night. Being married off multiple times makes her aggravated to hear that child marriage is still a thing in Connecticut and the rest of the United States.

Unchained At Last, Naila Amil: Thousands of lives are ruined each day because we are letting children get married. These marriages can cause serious manipulation of the children and extreme mental problems as well later in life. Engaged at 8 and married at 15 Naila was robbed of her childhood, those are the days she will never get back.

Unchained At Last, Taylor Ahearn: Child marriage is a human rights abuse, and it's happening now and all over the United States. Nearly a quarter million children have been forced into a marriage from 2000 and 2010 alone. Allowing children to get married before the age of 18 is doing them a huge disservice by allowing them to enter a binding contract where they are without the legal protection granted to those entering into the very same contract.

Unchained at Last, Christina Morris, Director of Client Services: Child marriage is a human-rights abuse. It's appalling that it is legal in the United States. Innocent girls are forced into binding contracts every day and they don't even have a say in what they want. Working directly with survivors shows that many of them are coerced into these arrangements. It is almost impossible for them to find help they need to escape, such as shelter and legal services. HB5442 needs to be passed to ensure that our children can't be harmed.

Unchained At Last, Aliya Abbas Mentor: I believe that our country was founded on the ideas of freedom and justice but things like child marriage, which is a direct violation of a child's rights, seen as acceptable is horrible. Besides being an injustice, it is causing mental, emotional, and physical abuse to the child being forced into this arrangement. Child marriage must end for the wellbeing of our children and our nation.

Human Rights Watch: The practice of child marriage has no place in the United States. Statistics such as 50 percent of girls are likely to drop out of high school and four times likely to not complete college. Women who marry in their early teens are 31 percent more like to end up in poverty later in life. While Connecticut prides itself with having extensive and rigorous rules this child marriage law blemishes our image. We as a state are out of step with the rest of the world. Children need to be protected from marriage similar to age restrictions on other things like alcohol, military service, and weapons.

William and May School of Law, Vivian Hamilton Professor of Law: After doing research, the data shows nothing but a trend and that child marriage is not a good idea. HB5442 will eliminate this. Statistics that Vivian Hamilton has compiled show that for youths and teens who marry in mid adolescence, the likelihood of divorce nears 80 percent. Teens closer to 18 are 70 percent likely and around age 22 it begins to level off. Early marriage imposes large amount of costs to families and the ones being married are more likely to earn lower wages and live in poverty. Research demonstrates that neither parental nor judicial consent has any observable effect on marital stability. The bill's intent is logical, however Vivian believes that the bill should push the legal marriage age to 21 but age of 18 will alleviate some of the problems.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Submitted

Reported by: Christo Hamilakis

Date: April 5, 2017