bill awaits the signature of Governor Matt Bevin, who has not
taken a public position on it. His office could not be reached
Senate bill 48 would restrict anyone younger than 17 from
getting married without parental approval. Under current
Kentucky law 16- and 17-year-olds may marry with parental
consent, and a district judge can approve marriages for younger
children if the girl is pregnant.
Supporters of the bill claim child marriages are not often
between teenagers. Instead, they are often marriages of younger
girls to older men and can lead can lead to increased domestic
violence and abuse, said Donna Pollard, who testified before a
state House of Representatives committee earlier this week.
Pollard was 16 when she married a 30-year-old man with her
mother's approval, and she said the marriage resulted in
domestic abuse, according to a statement from the Kentucky
Legislative Research Commission, the lawmakers' support
About 4 percent of Kentuckians ages 15 to 17 are married,
compared with the national average of 4.6 percent, according to
the Pew Research Center. Neighboring West Virginia has the
highest rate, at 7.1 percent.
Only 7 percent of child marriages in Kentucky from 2000 to 2015
involved two minors, Pollard said in the commission statement.
There were about 11,000 marriages involving minors in Kentucky
during that period, she said.
Kentucky's bill is one of several proposals aimed at reducing
teen marriages that have been taken up in U.S. state
legislatures this year.
Last week, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that allows
17-year-olds to wed only if there is parental consent and no
more than a two-year age difference between spouses. That bill
awaits Governor Rick Scott's signature.
(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Editing by Ben Klayman and
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