Michigan lawmakers reintroduce bills to make child marriage illegal

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WNDU) - Michigan lawmakers hope bills reintroduced on Thursday end child marriage in the state for good.

Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds in the state can get married with permission from a parent or guardian.

On Thursday, Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) and Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) shared with our reporting partners at WILX in Lansing why they’re bringing the topic back to lawmakers’ docket. They say 5,400 children were married in Michigan from 2000-2021, and some of those marriages involved children as young as 12.

Courtney Kosnik told our sister station WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids that she was stuck for 23 years in an abusive marriage that began when she was 16.

“I could not find a way out. I realized a month into this marriage that I needed to,” Kosnik said. “I went to attorneys; I was told I could not file for divorce in the state of Michigan being 17. I went to domestic abuse shelters; I was told to go home. I was a child; I could not go there.”

The new bills would ban any marriage involving a child under the age of 18. Three previous efforts over the past five years to ban child marriage have stalled in the state Legislature.