FFRF celebrates Connecticut child marriage ban

It’s official! Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has signed into law a bill ending child marriage in the state, making it the ninth in the union to set 18 as the earliest age to marry — with no exceptions. The Freedom From Religion Foundation applauds this reform and urges other states to follow suit.

This bill passed the Connecticut Senate unanimously on June 2 — but only thanks to the efforts of a strong coalition of supporters, including the national advocacy organization Unchained At Last and FFRF Action Fund advocates in Connecticut.

According to UNICEF, minors who are married are 50 percent more likely to drop out of school. Early marriage additionally doubles a teenager’s chance of living in poverty and triples the likelihood of domestic violence, as compared to adults. Children are typically pursued for marriage by religious individuals using outdated dogma to justify their abusive behavior.

In most parts of the nation, child marriages are legal. Dismayingly, 11 states do not even specify any minimum age for marriage. Often, such marriages are nothing more than a way to avoid prosecution for what would otherwise be criminal child or statutory rape. Minors, lacking adult rights, can be easily forced to marry and can become trapped in those marriages. In an ironically unjust twist, minors may be forced to marry, but are not “old enough” to file for divorce. Exceptions for child marriage have often been enacted at the behest of religions.

Horror stories of these forced child marriages echo the Mosaic law of the Old Testament, which forces rape victims to marry their rapists. The bible treats girls and women as chattel and property. Girls go from being the property of fathers to the property of husbands, who, to quote Genesis, “shall rule over” them. In the United States even now, minors who flee an abusive spouse or impending forced marriage are typically considered runaways under state law, can be returned to their homes against their will or in some states and even charged with running away.

Forward-thinking states besides Connecticut that now mandate the marriage age of consent to be 18 are: Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

“We congratulate everyone who helped to pass this excellent bill, and now look to the remaining 41 states to ban child marriage once and for all,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 41,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Connecticut. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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