Senate passes bill outlawing child marriages in Minnesota, sending it to Walz

The Minnesota Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would outlaw child marriages in the state, sending it to Gov. Tim Walz.

The Senate voted 66-0 to approve the legislation. The House had approved the bill 127-0 last year. Walz is expected to sign the bill into law.

Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds can get married if they have permission from a parent, guardian or the court, and a judge signs off on it. The new legislation would get rid of the exception and prevent anyone younger than 18 from getting married in Minnesota.

Lawmakers, advocates push to ban marriage in Minnesota for children under 18

According to 2014 Census data, 1,142 children ages 15 to 17 in Minnesota reported having been married, and advocates estimated that statistic is lower than the actual number.

Supporters of the bill say minors are often coerced or forced into marriages making it difficult for them to escape. They add that it also has negative impacts on girls’ health, education and economic opportunities, and significantly increases the chance they’ll experience domestic violence.

The New Jersey-based organization Unchained at Last says Minnesota would be just the third state in the country to fully ban marriage for people under the age of 18, without exception.