Georgia News

Child marriage bill passes Georgia House with bipartisan support

ATLANTA (WJBF) - A bipartisan bill has passed in the Georgia House that would move the age to marry up to 17. The bill passed with overwhelming success, but not without some dissent.

A 16-year-old is a child, at least legally speaking. They can't drink, they can't vote, they can't drive after curfew...

But in Georgia those children right now could get married. 

A Republican sponsored bill in the Georgia House, cosigned by some Democrats, seeks to change that.  

Primarily the 10,000 child marriages over the past 15 years were poor children.

"Child brides marry young, in poverty, and remain in poverty," says Rep. Andrew Welch.

Those children are also less likely to receive an adequate education. 

The bill would also mandate that 17-year-olds could not marry anyone more than 4 years older.

"Overpowering, out of age, out of sync relationships that should be not happening," says Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver

A point some legislators argued against, saying those age differences could be normal.

"I would push back that that's normal and secondly I would say, what's the rush? It's not a big deal to wait until both parties are adults, to make a decision that makes sense for their lifetimes. Because marriage is an institution that should be longterm," says Rep. Scott Holcomb. 

A point he says is supported by the fact that 80 percent of child marriages end in divorce.

That bill passed the house with only 13 members opposing it: it now moves to the senate.


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