Florida Senate OKs Bill Banning Forced Child Marriages
“My soul is happy that we’ll be able to save many, many, many children from being abused,” Johnson said afterward. “It takes one person to actually come out and speak against it, but there are many others that actually have experienced it.”
Florida doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 18 to independently consent to marriage. Children aged 16 and 17 can marry with the consent of both children’s parents. But if there’s a pregnancy involved, there is no minimum age for marriage as long as a judge approves the marriage license.
Between 2010 and 2016, 3,161 children — 72 of them under the age of 16 — were married in Florida, according to state Department of Health statistics. At least one child was married in every one of Florida’s 67 counties and in some cases the spouse was at least twice the minor’s age.
Bill supporters say current law essentially lets child rapists use marriage to go unpunished.