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NJ Considers Banning Anyone Under 18 From Getting Married

New Jersey Statehouse

This week Delaware became the first state in the nation to ban marriage for anyone under the age of 18. 

New Jersey lawmakers are making another attempt to pass a similar ban.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is one of the sponsors of the legislation. He says since 1995 more than 3500 people under the age of 18 did get married in New Jersey.

“There’s probably success stories but I’m sure that there are many that would regret that decision in years to come. We want them to concentrate on school, concentrate on work, and concentrate on their future.”

The biggest advocate for the legislation is Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained at Last, a group that helps women escape from forced marriages.  She says marriage before the age of 18 can have devastating consequences.

“It makes a girl entirely unlikely to finish high school let alone college. It makes her much more likely to end up living in poverty. It significantly increases her risk of serious health consequences. A much significantly increased risk of experiencing domestic violence within the marriage.”

Marie Tasy, the executive director of New Jersey Right To Life, opposes the legislation. She says it would prevent some pregnant teens from getting married.

“If this bill passes, a pregnant minor who wants to keep the child, parent the child, and marry the father will instead be forced into unwed motherhood, placing her child for adoption or abortion.”   

Former Governor Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill last year.