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Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs bill raising New York marriage age to 18

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation raising the age of marital consent to 18.

Under a previous law enacted by Cuomo in 2017, 17-year-olds were able to wed with parental and judicial consent. But, that loophole will disappear once the new law takes effect in 30 days.

“This administration fought hard to successfully end child marriage in New York and I’m proud to sign this legislation to strengthen our laws and further protect vulnerable children from exploitation,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Children should be allowed to live their childhood and I thank the many legislators and advocates who worked diligently to advance this measure and further prevent forced marriages in this state.”

The 2017 law raised the state age of consent from 14 to 18 in most circumstances and was meant to address concerns about arranged marriages of teen girls, often to much older men. The bill Cuomo signed Thursday was dubbed “Nalia’s Law” after a girl who was married at 13 to a man twice her age.

The 2017 law, which Cuomo enacted, raised the state age of consent from 14 to 18 in most circumstances and was meant to address concerns about arranged marriages of teen girls.
The 2017 law, which Cuomo enacted, raised the state age of consent from 14 to 18 in most circumstances and was meant to address concerns about arranged marriages of teen girls.
Getty Images

“The cruel and callous practice of child marriage has traumatized too many children to count,” Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “Nalia’s Law, which will raise the age of consent for marriage to 18 and prohibit marriage if either person is underage, is named after one brave survivor of forced child marriage who I was lucky enough to meet. With the passage of this crucial legislation, minors in New York will be further protected from this predatory practice, and we can prevent stories like Nalia’s from repeating themselves.”

The new law makes knowingly issuing marriage licenses to couples where one or both party is underage a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine.

Cuomo enacted the law dubbed " Nalia's Law" after a 13-year-old girl was married to a man twice her age.
Cuomo enacted the law dubbed ” Nalia’s Law” after a 13-year-old girl was married to a man twice her age.
AP

According to Unchained at Last, an advocacy group working to end forced and child marriage in the US, New York is the sixth state to raise its marriage age to 18, joining Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Rhode Island. The territories of American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands have passed similar legislation as well.

“Regardless of maturity level, minors lack sufficient legal rights and autonomy that they need to protect them if they enter a marriage contract before becoming adults,” said state Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn), another sponsor of the bill. “The vast majority of minors who enter a marriage are teenage girls, and getting married before adulthood often has devastating consequences for them.

“I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill to finally prohibit child marriage without exceptions in New York,” Salazar added, “and commend the continued work of Unchained At Last in advocating to prohibit child marriage nationwide.”

https://nypost.com/2021/07/23/gov-andrew-cuomo-signs-bill-raising-new-york-marriage-age-to-18/

Huynh Nguyen

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