On Wednesday, the House voted unanimously to pass S35, a bill introduced by Sen. Vickie Sawyer (Iredell), Sen. Danny Britt (Robeson), and Sen. Valerie Foushee (Chatham). The bill aims to end child marriage by raising the minimum legal age for marriage in North Carolina to 16 years old.
North Carolina has previously been tied only with Alaska for having the lowest legal age for marriage in the country at just 14. “I’m truly ecstatic that this bill passed unanimously in the House today. This legislation is vital for the protection of our most vulnerable youth and will curtail North Carolina from becoming a destination child trafficking state. I’d like to thank my colleagues, Representative Kristin Baker and Representative Ashton Wheeler-Clemmons for handling the bill as it moved through the House. I’d also like to thank Senator Foushee and Senator Britt for working so diligently to sponsor and pass this legislation in the Senate,” said Sawyer.
Specifically, S35 accomplishes the following:
Eliminates 14-and 15-year olds from marrying with no exceptions
Raises the legal marriage age in North Carolina up from age 14 to age 16 with parental consent or judicial authorization
Allows for minors aged 16 and 17 to marry an individual no more than 4-years older with parental consent or judicial authorization.