LT. GOVERNOR BYSIEWICZ SIGNS LEGISLATION BANNING MARRIAGE LICENSES FOR MINORS
(HARTFORD, CT) – Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz,serving in her capacity as acting governor, today signed into law legislation that updates Connecticut’s marriage statutes by prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from receiving a marriage license.
The legislation, Public Act 23-44, was sought by advocates in an effort to prevent children from being forced into marriages. It is part of a growing nationwide movement to enact state laws that prevent minors from being able to marry. It takes effect July 1, 2023.
“I am proud that Connecticut has joined its neighbors in ending child marriage and closed a loophole that would allow some to venue shop for marriage in our state,” said Lt. Governor Bysiewicz. “When we allow child marriage, we deprive children of their childhood – and their future. The legislature has set a number of reasonable restrictions for persons under the age of 18 – and through this new law we are eliminating a practice that undermines our children’s health, safety, education and future economic opportunities."
Governor Ned Lamont asked Lt. Governor Bysiewicz to sign the legislation on his behalf while he is out of the state on an economic development mission in support of Connecticut’s aerospace industry.
“Child marriage is a human rights violation,” Governor Lamont said. “The impact of being forced into marriage underage can be devastating, and both physically and emotionally harmful. In America, we should be setting an example for the rest of the world on what it means to stand up for children and their basic rights. I urge other states across our country to join this growing coalition and raise the marriage age to 18.”
Under current state law, which was enacted in 2017, a probate judge can issue marriage licenses to 16 and 17-year-olds with the written consent of a parent or guardian. Prior to the enactment of that law, Connecticut did not have any age requirement for marriage.Between 2000 and 2021, there were 1,251 child marriages in Connecticut. In the six years that have passed since the minimum age was raised to 16, there have been 33.
Connecticut becomes the ninth state to adopt a law prohibiting child marriage. In the last several years, all of Connecticut’s neighboring states have enacted similar laws, including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.
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