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The trouble with legislating juvenile marriage in California

by AirTalk®

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Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of ICE's homeland security investigations in Los Angeles, said marriage fraud has been rampant for more than two decades but is frequently downplayed on television and in movies. File photo by JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images

There is currently no age limit for marriages in California.

Right now the requirements for minors who want to tie the knot are parental consent and a court order. State senator Jerry Hill proposed a bill that would bar marriage for anyone under 18. SB273 is still moving through legislative committees, but a number of amendments have removed the age limit completely – in it’s current form, the bill adds more oversight from family courts before marriage to a juvenile can be approved.

Proponents of a minimum age limit in the California say it will help protect children from coerced marriages. Opponents to a marriage age limit, including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that marriage is a fundamental right and that the current safeguards are strong enough.

Should there be a minimum age requirement to get married in California? Are there situations in which minors should be allowed to get married? Or are there legal loopholes that allow for coercive marriages?


Sarah Bradshaw, West Coast political director for the Feminist Majority, a non-profit which aims to advance non-violence and women’s equality

Anjali Tsui, Abrams journalism fellow at Frontline PBS; her recent article is “In Fight Over Child Marriage Laws, States Resist Calls for a Total Ban” and she tweets @anjalitsui

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