A law on the move at the State Capitol aims to make marriages for children under 18 illegal in Minnesota.

“Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to have sex with a 16 or 17-year-old child if you are more than four years older than the child and in a position of authority. However, that very same conduct is legal if the victim and the perpetrator are married,” said Attorney Ashlynn Kendzior in testimony before a key House committee.

She added that abuse is pervasive in these types of relationships and a married child has almost no legal recourse because, as a minor, he or she cannot file for divorce or seek an order for protection on their own. Kendzior said, “A child bride or groom who is the victim of abuse often has nowhere to go and therefore often remains in that abusive relationship, oftentimes with children involved. Child marriage is legal in Minnesota, but it absolutely should not be.”

If passed, the bill would require proof of age during the marriage license application process.

A companion bill is under consideration in the Senate.