TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Teenagers in New Jersey would be prevented from getting married until they turn 18 under a bill lawmakers have sent to Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.
The state Senate passed the measure on Monday by a 26-5 vote. The Assembly has already passed the measure.
Under current state law, 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to marry, but only with parental consent. Children under the age of 16 can only marry with parental consent and a state judge’s approval.
Supporters say the measure will protect girls from being forced into arranged marriages.
“Marriage is a legal contract and it should be reserved for adults,” Sen. Nellie Pou, D-Passaic, one of the marriage bill’s sponsors, told NJ.com. “It is startling for people to learn that there are many underage marriages happening here in New Jersey. As a state, we have a responsibility to protect our residents, and moral obligation to protect children and this bill takes the necessary steps to do that.”
Opponents call the legislation unnecessary, saying safeguards already are in place.
Republican state Sen. Michael Doherty pointed to New Jersey Right to Life’s concerns that the ban could lead to increased abortions.
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