The New York law allowing children as young as 14 years old to marry has been officially raised to 18 years old. 17-year-olds will be able to marry only if they have judicial and parental consent. Judges will be given guidelines to determine whether or not a 17-year-old is marrying against their will.
According to The New York Times, the legislation that would raise the age limit on marriage was met with controvery this past Spring, dividing New York. Many priased Governor Andrew Cuomo for "ending what they termed a form of child abuse" while others claimed it should go one step further and abolish marriage for anyone under the age of 18, period.
“The current New York law is, at best, antiquated,” Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, the bill's sponsor, said in an interview before the vote. “It reflects a time when everyone married younger. Times have changed. Child marriage is coerced marriage. It condemns young women to a life they did not choose.”
A number of other states allow marriages as young as 16 years old. New Yorkers have been allowed to marry at 14 years old since 1929 with only parental consent. From 2000 to 2010, approximately 3,900 minors were married in New York alone. While "only two 14-year-old boys and one 15-year-old girl were married statewide. But the numbers rise quickly for slightly older teenagers" in 2010, "50 girls and six boys who were 16 said marriage vows in New York" that same year.
The old law allowing child marriage let 14-year-olds get married, but they could not divorce their spouse until they turned 18. The new law will not only raise the marriage age, but will also allow any 17-year-olds to divorce.
Governor Chris Christie spoke out against the new bill last month, saying it did not "comport with the sensibilities" or "religious customs" of some New Yorkers. The bill has since strongly passed both houses of the Legislature.
“New York is poised to lead the nation in recognizing child marriage as a human rights violation,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York. “Governor Cuomo has been very clear that child marriage is a scourge on our New York values. It’s not a surprise that he will be signing into law the strongest protections against child marriage in the country.”
Hopefully other states will follow suit.