Senate Approves Legislation to End Child Marriages

Harrisburg – Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) joined Senate colleagues today in passing legislation that would end child marriage in Pennsylvania.

 Senate Bill 81 would eliminate all legal exceptions that allow for the marriages of children under the age of 18.  Pennsylvania is currently one of 18 states that does not specify a minimum age at which a person can be married.

Current Pennsylvania law allows for those under 18 to marry with a custodial parent or guardian’s consent and those under 16, to marry if a judge thinks it’s in the marriage license applicant’s best interest and with parental consent.

According to Unchained at Last, an organization that works to end child marriages, children who are forced into marriage before the age of 18 face lifelong, devastating consequences in terms of health, education, economic opportunities, and quality of life.

“In too many cases, a child marriage is a forced marriage. It’s not good for Pennsylvania children, families or society to be among a minority of states without clear law on this matter, and this vote is long overdue,” DiSanto said.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801