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California Progressives Pushing For Child Marriage Rights

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Effort to bar child marriage in California runs into opposition - San Francisco Chronicle

A Bay Area legislator was shocked when he learned from a young constituent that while Californians cannot legally consent to sex until they are 18, they can — with the permission of a parent and a judge’s order — get married at any age, even if their spouse is many years older. [...] Hill’s resulting proposal to bar juveniles from getting hitched has been watered down after it prompted strong objections from civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
 

The debate has energized people like Nicole, a 29-year-old resident of Stanislaus County who at age 16 married a 24-year-old man with the blessing of a judge. Nicole, who requested her last name be withheld for safety reasons, said she had been dating the man but was still in high school — and wasn't ready to settle down. But her grandmother, who was raising her, was extremely religious and pushed the two to get married.

With her guardian sanctioning what became an abusive relationship, Nicole said she felt helpless. "My grandparents were willing to ignore every bruise," she said. As for her husband, "I think that for him he thought it was a way to protect himself from statutory-rape charges."

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