The stage is set for Minnesota to raise the legal age to wed in the state to 18 under all circumstances. If Governor Walz  approves this bill, which he is expected to sign,  Minnesota will be only the 3rd state in the country with this law in effect.

Under the current law 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to marry with parental or legal guardians consent and a judge. Research has shown that teens that marry before 18 tend to have less education, face higher chances of facing poverty, addiction and mental health issues. Often underage girls are forced into these legal marriages and then cannot escape.

Fraidy Reiss, an activist working to stop child marriage across the country, per the Star Tribune Reiss said this at the State Capitol earlier this year  " Marriage, even at 16 or 17, has devastating lifelong repercussions. It destroys a girl’s health, her education, economic opportunities.

The United Nations is working to end the practice of child marriage worldwide by 2030, calling it a violation of rights of women and girls.  Just two other states, Delaware and New Jersey, have adopted full bans. Governor Walz is expected to approve the bill but said the state should consider and respect cultural traditions in certain communities.

It’s not clear how common child marriages are in Minnesota. About 2,000 Minnesotans ages 15 to 19, less than 1% of the population, had been married in 2014, according to census data. I  personally was not even aware that this law was not already in place to protect minors from such a thing as a forced marriage with an older individual. I truly believe that no 16 or 17 year old is mature enough to make such a big decision, even if their spouse is of the same age. If you insist do it when you are 18 and at least legally you are considered an adult.

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