The Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill on Friday to increase the age of marriage in Ohio to 18, with some exceptions.
Current Ohio law allows 16-year-old girls and 18-year-old boys to marry. However, younger children of any age are allowed to marry with parental and juvenile court permission.
Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko says many people would be shocked to learn that children as young as 14 are getting married in Ohio, which he says, according to statistics, often leads to emotional trauma, fewer educational opportunities and increased risk of abuse.
"They're not educated because they often drop out of school," said Yuko. "They don't have the ability to provide for their children, and the repercussions go on from there, whether it's clothing or food, medicine or healthcare... the whole nine yards."
Senator Yuko previously introduced a similar bill in the current Ohio General Assembly, Senate Bill 198, which would have banned marriages under 18 without exception. Unlike SB 198, HB 511 includes an exception to allow 17-year-olds to marry if they obtain juvenile court consent, if their partner is no more than four years older and if they complete a 14-day waiting period.
The bill now goes to Governor Kasich for his signature.