Mis­souri out­laws mar­riage for 15-year-olds

Albuquerque Journal - - NATION & WORLD -

Mis­souri — long the eas­i­est state in the na­tion for 15-year-olds to wed — has out­lawed the prac­tice.

Repub­li­can Gov. Mike Par­son on Fri­day signed into law Se­nate Bill 655. Be­fore, Mis­souri was one of 25 states with no min­i­mum mar­riage age. And Mis­souri was the only state that al­lowed chil­dren age 15 to marry with only one par­ent’s ap­proval, even if the other par­ent ob­jected. Chil­dren younger than 15 needed a judge’s ap­proval.

In March, The Kansas City Star pub­lished a series on child mar­riage show­ing that Mis­souri pos­sessed the du­bi­ous honor of the most le­nient law in the na­tion al­low­ing 15-year-olds to wed.

The re­sult was that Mis­souri had be­come des­ti­na­tion wed­ding spot for 15-year-old brides, with 1,000 15-yearolds be­ing wed in the state be­tween 1999 and 2017. Many of them were mar­ry­ing men age 21 or older, in ef­fect al­low­ing the girls to marry their rapists.

Now, no one age 15 or un­der is al­lowed to marry in the state. The min­i­mum le­gal age is 16. Mar­riage at 16 and 17 still re­quires the signed ap­proval of at least one par­ent. In ad­di­tion, mar­riage li­censes will not be given to in­di­vid­u­als 21 or older in­tend­ing to marry some­one 16 or younger.

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