OLYMPIA, WA – Washington State does not have a law banning child marriages, but that could change. The House yesterday unanimously voted to approve House Bill 1455. It now goes on to the Senate for consideration.
Current Washington law allows 17-year-olds to get married with the consent of a parent or guardian, and even younger if a superior court judge deems it appropriate. Both those exceptions will be wiped off the books and a firm minimum of 18 years would be established if legislation sponsored by Representative Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) makes it to Governor Jay Inslee.
Stonier pointed to the high incidence of abuse and coercion in underage unions as a key reason for her bill.
“In this country, child marriage has had a long history of abusive and coercive marriage and contributes to a lot of our human trafficking challenges,” Stonier says.
She co-sponsored the bill with several other Democrat representatives and one Republican.
“When children turn 18 they then have access to the full array of legal supports and court systems that may get them out of challenging and abusive relationships should they find themselves in one. Before 18 they do not have that access. I do not believe they should be trapped in a marriage against their will,” Stonier adds.
The intent of the bill is to stop forced marriages and human trafficking, supporters say.
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