Legislation in Washington that would lower the legal age of marriage to 18 has stalled.

Washington News

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The minimum marriage age measure in Washington state, which would set it at 18, has once again died in the state legislature.

The charity group Unchained At Last estimates that almost 300,000 underage weddings took place in the United States between 2000 and 2018. The vast majority of these marriages involved young women and older men.

According to the group, there were 4,831 underage marriages in Washington State between the years 2000 and 2018. There is no legal minimum age to be married in Washington, making it one of just a handful of states like that.

In early March, House Bill 1455 gained pace when it was overwhelmingly approved by the Washington House. However, it failed to move quickly enough through the Senate to get it out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee in time for a deadline.

Some states this year have increased their legal marriage age to 18, including West Virginia and Wyoming. According to their research, in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon has a minimum marriage age of 17, while Idaho has a minimum age of 16.

In Washington, a couple may be married at any age. If they are 17 or older, they just need their parents' permission; if they are younger, they will need a judge.

"Almost always," says Fraidy Reiss, founder and executive director of Unchained At Last, the persons pressuring children to marry are their parents.

According to Reiss, many people in the United States are unaware that child marriage is a problem. There is no organized resistance, she said, but state officials haven't made it a top priority to change the statute prohibiting child marriage.

And politicians are not recognized for giving females' problems a high priority. They aren't hearing from their people asking, "What the hell?" since most Americans aren't aware of this. You must alter this immediately.

Redmond Democrat and Law and Justice Committee Chair Manka Dhingra told the newspaper that she was faced with prioritizing the 65 pieces of legislation that had been handed to her committee for consideration.

Dhingra has promised to give the proposal a hearing at the next session.

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