Columbus – Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced legislation to update Ohio’s antiquated child marriage law. The bill would increase the minimum age for marriage to 18 for both boys and girls, while allowing Ohioans to marry at 16 and 17 with judicial and parental consent. The bill would prohibit any marriages for individuals under 16 years of age.

“Ohio’s child marriage law is antiquated and out of step with 21st century values,” said Senator Yuko. “I am introducing this bill to make sure our laws protect children and teenagers. In most cases, underage marriages have a devastating impact on a child’s future, with girls typically suffering the most.”

An investigation by the Dayton Daily News revealed that more than 4,400 girls age 17 or younger were married in Ohio between 2000 and 2015, including 59 who were 15 or younger, and three who were just 14.

Studies show that early marriages have alarming and often lifelong consequences on young girls, including undermining their health, limiting their access to education, reducing their economic opportunities, and putting them at increased risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. Marriages involving teenagers are also more likely to fail than those involving young adults.

“Several advocates working to end child marriage reached out to Ohio lawmakers and asked us to change the state’s child marriage law,” said Senator Yuko. “I think this legislation should be a priority for the General Assembly.”

Currently, Ohio legislation (ORC 3101.01) allows girls 16 and older, and boys 18 and older to marry. However, younger children of any age are allowed to marry with the permission of their parents and of a juvenile court.

In updating this section of the Ohio Revised Code, Senator Yuko’s legislation also deletes outdated references to same-sex marriage so Ohio’s laws conform with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges

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