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Politics

Bill Banning Child Marriage Sails Through Florida Senate

January 31, 2018 - 11:30am

The Florida Senate voted unanimously in favor of a bill banning child marriages on Wednesday.

The measure, SB 140, would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from tying the knot. Florida law currently allows people as young as 16 to get married.
 
If signed into law, Floridians hoping to wed would be required to provide their Social Security numbers to the county or circuit court who would then verify whether the parties were of legal age. 
 
An amendment to the measure would whack violators of the bill with a misdemeanor if they issued marriage licenses to underage children.
 
Bill sponsor Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, said marriage license “loopholes” had been used and abused to cover up sexual abuse of young women.
 
Benacquisto pointed to the case of Sherry Johnson, an 11 year-old from Tampa who was married by a Pinellas County Clerk to a 20 year-old member of her church who raped and impregnated her.
 
As child welfare authorities investigated, church officials decided the best way to “clean up” the controversy and decided Johnson and her rapist should get married.
 
Officials in Pinellas County were aware of Johnson’s age at the time and issued the license anyway. 
 
Johnson testified she “couldn’t get out” of the marriage with her abuser, with whom she had six children. She had her first child when she was just 10 years old. 
 
“So many minors are actually getting into situations they can’t get out of,” Johnson told a Senate committee of the situation earlier this month. “[Children] are able to go in and get married but they can’t get out of situations when they get into it, and that’s sad.”
 
The U.S. Department of Health considers a marriage under the age of 18 a “human rights abuse,” though child marriages still happen nationwide.
 
Over 1,800 marriage licenses were issued to minors in Florida from 2012 to 2016, a statistic supporters of the measure said was a surprise. 
 
“Until you put a face on this issue, people don’t understand,” said Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, who sponsored the measure. “Sherry has been that face. She has been able to destigmatize the process.”
 
A similar measure -- HB 335 -- is currently making its way through the Florida House. 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


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Comments

Well,... it's DEFINITELY about time,... and, at least, FIFTY years overdue !

Yes, clearly you're worried about women's rights, correct . . . . . or don't you remember your past demonizing of all women --> " 'Medusa' crazy lady " . . . . "long-term results of 'programs' such as "Womens Suffrage" . . . . . "Women assuming a position of power wield it like no others, with pettiness, animosity and vindictiveness." . . . . . "this 'unofficial' women enjoys the mandate, and is surrounded by, ALL women 'officially' in power who protect her and thereby each other" . . . . . . . "80% 0f "Planned Parenthood" offices are in black neighborhoods; Margaret Sanger, founder of 'Planned Parenthood' made no secret of her desire to eliminate the black race (she wrote books about it in fact)" . . . . . "I only wish I could be AS assured that women actually understood, and had a comprehensive grasp on 'demographics' and its imminent effects on "Western Civilization",...particularly at THIS point in history..." . . . . . . . and on and on and on . . . . . . . . yeah, your crocodile tears of faux concern and sympathy are noted . . . . . . . . PATHETIC

It's about time! This is a national disgrace. Children need to have a chance for a happy life and a future.

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