It's Friday, and I'm a little bored...
Apparently there is no explicit law or restriction related to child marriages in the state of California. A democrat's efforts to introduce a law barring marriage prior to 18 is meeting resistance from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood (of all groups). According to the article, various religions (cults, really) seem to be driving the phenomenon of child marriage in the state.
Even more interesting is that the ACLU seems to view the law as a restriction on freedom, yet the children (girls, mostly) describe how their own rights and freedom are infringed upon because it's older family members driving them into these arrangements.
SNIP: A Bay Area legislator was shocked when he learned from a young
constituent that while Californians cannot legally consent to sex until
they are 18, they can — with the permission of a parent and a judge’s
order — get married at any age, even if their spouse is many years
“I thought, that can’t be true in
California,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo. “We
found that it is true in California and true in many states throughout
But Hill’s resulting proposal to bar juveniles from getting
hitched has been watered down after it prompted strong objections from
civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
As the emotional fight unfolds in Sacramento, there’s no agreement
even about a basic piece of information — how many minors get married
each year in California. People who want to limit such marriages say the
total is in the thousands, while those who oppose the bill say that’s
The state doesn’t keep such numbers, and even efforts to change that are running into resistance.
Within the past year, elected officials in several states have
pushed to restrict juvenile marriage, with a law passed last month
limiting matrimony by minors in New York to 16- and 17-year-olds who
have become legal adults emancipated from their parents, and one in
Texas holding the line at age 17 — with a judge’s permission.
Hill wanted California to set a strict line at age 18, but the effort
encountered swift opposition from fellow legislators, as well as groups
that include the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
While SB273 is still alive and moving through legislative committees,
amendments have removed any age restriction. The measure in its current
form increases family court oversight to ensure that a minor’s marriage
isn’t coerced, including a requirement that judges interview
It’s a compromise, Hill said, but still a positive step. “It’s our responsibility to protect those kids,” he said.
Among those disappointed by the result of the compromise is Sara
Tasneem of El Sobrante, who said the amended bill won’t help children
and will only make elected officials feel like they did something.
Tasneem was 15 when her father, who belonged to a cult in Southern
California, introduced her to a man 13 years her senior. She was forced
to marry the 28-year-old in a religious ceremony that evening. Six
months later, at 16, she was pregnant and legally married in a civil
ceremony in Reno.
“A person who marries a 15-year-old, there’s obviously something
wrong,” said Tasneem, now 36. “Putting that label of husband and wife
makes something disgusting and not OK seem normal and OK.”
As a teenager, Tasneem dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Instead, she
became a mother, with two children by age 19. She would ultimately defy
her husband and return to school, and later file for divorce.
“Once you leave your childhood, there’s no going back to it,” said
Tasneem, now a business student at Golden Gate University in San
Francisco. “All those opportunities and freedom of being a child are
Activists aiming to stop such marriages say they occur across
demographic groups, spurred by religious reasons, cultural norms,
pregnancy, financial incentives or, in some cases, to protect someone
from statutory-rape accusations because marriage circumvents the
Nationally, about 5 of every 1,000 children ages 15 to 17 were
married as of 2014, according to U.S. census data analyzed by the Pew
Research Center — figures that don’t specify where the marriages
occurred. Activists for age restrictions estimate that California sees
about 3,000 marriages per year that include a minor.
The ACLU and other opponents say that estimate is inflated, noting
that just 44 petitions for juvenile marriage were filed in Los Angeles
County — which has a population just above 10 million — over the past
The focus of efforts should be on abusive and coerced relationships,
regardless of marital status, said Phyllida Burlingame of the ACLU’s
Northern California chapter.
Referring to current regulations, including the requirement of a
court order allowing a juvenile to marry, she said California had “a
strong package of both programs and laws that prevent coerced marriage
among youth, and a lack of data showing this is a widespread problem.”
Hill’s original proposal, she said, “was a solution that wasn’t
necessarily going to have the impact on improving young people's health
and relationships that we want.”
Other opponents said marriage is a fundamental right, and that some
juveniles not only marry willingly but benefit from the choice.
“Any legislation to eliminate this core right,” said the National
Center for Youth Law in a statement opposing Hill’s initial legislation,
“must be based on concrete data and information that demonstrates this
drastic step is the most effective and appropriate strategy to address
the harms being alleged, and that there are not other less extreme