We just banned Child Marriage in New York

Press Releases / June 8, 2017

NOW New York Celebrates Passage of Strongest Ban on Child Marriage in the U.S. 

ALBANY, NY (June 8, 2017) –  After the National Organization for Women – New York’s (NOW-NY) two-year campaign marked with rallies, lobbying efforts, and public education, child marriage will be outlawed in New York State. The bill passed the Assembly with a vote of 116-0. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law on Tuesday, June 20th. 

 “New York is poised to lead the nation in recognizing child marriage as a human rights violation,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York. “Governor Cuomo has been very clear that child marriage is a scourge on our New York values, and by applying a human rights lens to the state’s marriage laws, his effort to end child marriage is a natural extension of his work to expand marriage rights to same-sex couples. At a time when the fundamental rights of women are under attack by the Trump administration, from dismantling healthcare to defunding the programs that serve women in crisis, this legislation to save girls from forced marriage is needed more than ever.” 

From 2000 to 2010, 3,853 minors were married, 85 percent of whom were girls aged 14 to 17 wed to adult men. Under current New York law, children as young as 14 are allowed to marry with judicial and parental consent. The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza ends marriage for 14, 15 and 16 year-olds and requires parental and judicial review and approval for 17 year olds, who will now be entitled to a court-appointed attorney with training on forced marriage. Once signed into law, New York State will have the strongest protections for children vulnerable to coerced and forced marriage in the U.S.

Reports make clear that child brides are at higher risk of domestic violence, suffer higher incidences of mental and physical health problems, and are less likely to complete their education. Pregnant teen moms who marry are more likely to end up living in poverty than those who don’t marry. The U.S. State Department has called early and forced marriage a human rights abuse.

This is in stark contrast to New Jersey, where Governor Christie recently shocked voters by vetoing a bill that would have raised the marriage age from no floor to 18. Citing a need to protect religious and cultural freedom, Christie is adamant that 16 year olds be allowed to marry. “Religion and culture is never an excuse to allow child abuse. The candidates vying to lead New Jersey should tell voters now where they stand on this issue,” Ossorio said.

Watch Sonia Ossorio’s interview with Capital Tonight here.


NOW-NYC advocates for the women and girls of New York, by working to defend reproductive rights, fight economic inequality, and end discrimination and violence against women.