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Kentucky Child Marriage Bill Clears Senate Committee


A bill that would raise the minimum age of marriage in Kentucky will be considered by the state Senate after it passed the Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote Tuesday morning.

The bill would make 18 the legal age of marriage in Kentucky. Judges could grant some exceptions for 17-year-olds to wed after hearing from a parent. No one under the age of 17 would be allowed to marry under this bill, even with judicial or parental intervention.

Kentucky’s current statute allows children aged 16 and 17 to marry with parental consent. Children younger than that can get married if the girl is pregnant. There is no lower age limit.

An investigation from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found that nearly 11,000 minors were married in Kentucky over the last 17 years. Some were as young as 13.

SB48 was originally proposed by state Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. When it stalled in committee last week, Adams took to Twitter to blame "lobbying organizations" that were pushing for more parental involvement in the decision making.

"We see evidence of parents who are addicted, abusive, neglectful pushing their children into predatory arms," she wrote.

The revised version of the bill allows parents to submit an affidavit to the judge who is considering whether a 17-year-old should be allowed to wed, according to Courier Journal. The judge will still have ultimate deciding power.

Eleanor Klibanoff can be reached at eklibanoff@kycir.org and (502) 814.6544.