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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs legislation to ban child marriage in Michigan

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Sept. 19, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Sept. 19, 2023 03:47

(CBS DETROIT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to prevent child marriage and protect minors.

The bills raise the minimum age for a person to consent to marriage to 18, according to Whitmer's office.

"Keeping Michiganders safe and healthy is one of my top priorities, and today's bipartisan bills will build on our efforts to protect young people—especially young women—from abuse," said Whitmer. "As a county prosecutor, I went after those who used their power to prey on young people, and as governor, I am proud to sign legislation to strengthen protections for children and survivors into law. Together, we can make Michigan a safe, welcoming state where you can grow up and pursue your potential."   

Here are the bills that raise the age of consent and update laws to reflect and implement the ban on child marriage: 

  • House Bill 4294, sponsored by Rep. Kara Hope, D - Lansing, establishes 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage. 
  • House Bill 4295, sponsored by Rep. Alabas Farhat, D – Dearborn, prohibits secret child marriages, which are done when a marriage record is sealed to the public. 
  • House Bill 4296, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Coffia, D – Traverse City, is a grandfather law that ensures minors who are currently married do not lose their spousal benefits under the new laws.  

"It's time for us to ban the cruel practice of child marriage," said state Representative Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), sponsor for HB 4295. "Abusive adults take advantage of minor children, setting them up for a life of torment. It is our duty to protect the children of Michigan, and I'm grateful this legislation is being signed into law."

 According to Whitmer's office, the governor plans to sign House Bill 4302 upon presentation. It was presented and enrolled on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

This is the final bill in the package and is sponsored by Rep. Joey Andrews, D - St. Joseph. 

"As a new father, I share in the worries of every parent, the foremost of which is making sure my daughter is safe and healthy. Banning child marriage is an overdue step in that direction," said state Representative Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph), sponsor of HB 4302. "Child marriage is the domain of sexual predators and their enablers, and I'm proud to be part of erasing it from Michigan statute."

It changes references to married minors in the state's penal code.

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