Last night our hard work paid off: The New Jersey senate voted 26-5 to pass the bill we helped to write – and spent a year and a half tirelessly promoting – to end child marriage. The assembly already passed the bill, which means that if the governor doesn’t kill it, New Jersey will become the first U.S. state to end all marriage before 18.

And it won’t be the last. We’re already working in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri and New York to pass legislation to end or limit child marriage, and Pennsylvania is about to join that list.

And on Friday, Texas introduced a bill to end most marriage before 18, thanks to the advocacy of our ally, the Tahirih Justice Center.

Do your legislators and governor know you want them to end child marriage? Tell them by emailing them here.

Ending Child Marriage in America

Right now marriage before 18 is legal in all 50 U.S. states – even though children can easily be forced into marriage or forced to stay in a marriage before they become legal adults, and even though the impacts of marriage before 18 on a girl’s life are devastating enough that the U.S. State Department considers such marriage a “human rights abuse.”

We at Unchained started and now lead a growing national movement to eliminate child marriage in America. We are working to draft, introduce and pass legislation, state by state, to eliminate all marriage before 18 without exceptions.

To build support for this legislation, Unchained writes op-eds like this one published last month in the Washington Post (which garnered nearly a million unique views); hosts Chain-Ins to protest forced and child marriage; gives regular media interviews; and presents at conferences and other venues.

You Can Help

You can help end child marriage in America:

  • Email your legislators and governor to urge them to pass pending legislation to end child marriage. (Available if you live in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York or Texas.)
  • Join an upcoming Chain-In to protest forced and child marriage.
  • Support Unchained financially. Even a small donation makes a big difference to a woman or a girl fleeing a forced marriage.
  • Stay updated on news about forced and child marriage in the U.S. “Like” Unchained on Facebook and follow Unchained on Twitter.
  • Volunteer your time to help a woman or a girl who is facing a forced marriage. Unchained relies on the kindness of pro bono attorneys, psychotherapists and others.