UPDATE: CALL TO ACTION! Call or send an email to committee members- there is no minimum age for marriage in MA!

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Do you know in Massachusetts girls as young as twelve can marry?  Do you know that that girls as young as 14 are being forced to marry much older men in this state?

These marriages essentially legalize sex with under-aged girls, acts that would otherwise be considered illegal under Massachusetts statutory rape laws. Last year a bill to establish a minimum age for marriage died in the Joint Judiciary Committee – it never even made it to the floor for a vote.  Bills to establish a minimum age for marriage are being filed in many states across the country. Slowly these guidelines are being established as people recognize the damage marrying so young can do to young girls’ lives.

The Senate bill  filed this year to end child marriage, S.24, An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts has been referred to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.


The committee will hold a hearing on March 26.  This is your first chance to use your voice on this issue.  Please contact the members of the committee, listed below. Tell them you would like your message added to the record as testimony for the hearing.

The message is simple. MA has no minimum age for marriage.  The majority of minors who marry are girls marrying older men.  Please support this legislation, vote it out of committee with support.  Use any or all of talking points below in your message, or use this sample letter of testimony: in PDF form or in Word form.  (If you have a personal story, that is even better.)

Condensed talking points to use for your message to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities:

MA H. 1478/S 24 An Act to End Child Marriage in Massachusetts: SUMMARY 

  • Our current statutes are inadequate to address this unique challenge.
  • This bill would ban marriage under the age of 18, which is presently allowed with parental and judicial consent.

WHY THIS LEGISLATION IS NECESSARY  (See fact sheet and laws and background, for full explanations and examples.)

  • Roughly 82 children/per year as young as 14 were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016 –
    • 7 % were girls wed to adult men.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics study (2011) = of nearly 1.7 million children/women in the U.S. had gotten married at age 15 or younger
    • over half of whom were 16 and younger
  • OBSTACLES FACEDminors face many obstacles when they try to leave or resist such a marriage:
    • Obtaining services from the Department of Children and Families,
    • Bringing legal action including filing for divorce, renting, shelter admission, and opening a checking account.
    • More risk to the child’s health, education and economic opportunities and increased risk of domestic violence and divorce. Between 70-80% of marriages involving children end in divorce.
    • For teen mothers, getting married and later divorcing can more than double the likelihood for poverty.
    • 2006 DoJ: Girls and young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence among all such victims, noting that girls aged 16-19 face victimization rates almost triple the national average.
    • Women who marry in their teens tend to have more children, earlier and more closely spaced, which can prevent them from accessing education and work opportunities, limiting their earning power and ability to be financially independent in the event of domestic violence or divorce.
    • Women who marry before the age of 19 are 50% more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college.
  • Delaware and New Jersey in 2018 (Chris Christie -NJ- vetoed the first attempt saying he wanted religious exceptions) became the first states to pass bills to end all child marriage (marriage before 18), without exceptions. Other states also are considering similar legislation.

Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
24 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02133

(All email addresses firstname.secondname@masenate.gov)

Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov  Room 111      617-722-1672 Chair
Diana.DiZoglio@masenate.gov          Room 215      617-722-1604 Vice Chair
James.Eldridge@masenate.gov          Room 320      617-722-1120
Rebecca.Rausch@masenate.gov        Room 419      617-722-1555
Brendan.Crighton@masenate.gov    Room 109c     617-722-1350
Donald.Humason@masenate.gov      Room 313A    617-722-1415

Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov                     Room 146      617-722-2011 Chair
Josh.Cutler@mahouse.gov                   Room 26        617-722-2080 Vice Chair
John.Rogers@mahouse.gov                Room 162      617-722-2092
Jonathan.Hecht@mahouse.gov          Room 22         617-722-2140
Carmine.Gentile@mahouse.gov        Room 167       617-722-2810
Jack.Lewis@mahouse.gov                   Room 443      617-722-2460
Nika.Elugardo@mahouse.gov            Room B1        617-722-2425
Tami.Gouveia@mahouse.gov              Room B1        617-722-2425
David.LeBoeuf@mahouse.gov            Room B2        617-722-2425
Michael.Soter@mahouse.gov              Room 443      617-722-2460
Kimberly.Ferguson@mahouse.gov    Room 473B    617-722-2263

copy and paste into an email:
Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov, Diana.DiZoglio@masenate.govJames.Eldridge@masenate.gov, Rebecca.Rausch@masenate.gov, Brendan.Crighton@masenate.gov, Donald.Humason@masenate.gov, Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov, Josh.Cutler@mahouse.gov, John.Rogers@mahouse.gov, Jonathan.Hecht@mahouse.gov, Carmine.Gentile@mahouse.gov, Jack.Lewis@mahouse.gov, Nika.Elugardo@mahouse.gov,
Tami.Gouveia@mahouse.gov, David.LeBoeuf@mahouse.gov,
Michael.Soter@mahouse.gov, Kimberly.Ferguson@mahouse.gov,

The most effective way to do this is to send a message to all email addresses. If that is not possible, if you can’t send to/call each member – please send to/contact to chairs and ask that they share your message with all members and put your message on the record for the hearing March 26.  Ask that your request is acknowledged.

After you’ve contacted these legislators, ask people in your community to do the same. Share this post with your email contacts and on social media.

Let us know that you sent a message either here in the comments on this post,  in comments on the pinned post on our Facebook page,  or send us an email: CapeCodWomenforChange@gmail.com.  If you get responses we’d love to hear what about that, too.

Women’s rights are under attack at all levels of government, at the very least, should be able to establish policies that allow young women and girls here in Massachusetts to reach their full potential.

Thank you for giving your voice to this issue, it really does make a difference.

This is our letter of support sent to this committee to support S24:

The Honorable Kay Khan, House Chair
Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
State House, Room 146
Boston, MA 02133

The Honorable Sonia Chang-Díaz, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
State House, Room 111
Boston, MA 02133

March 21, 2019

Dear Chairs and Members of the Joint Committee on Children Families and Persons with Disabilities;

We are an advocacy group representing woman across Cape Cod and Plymouth with supporters throughout MA. Our email list is extensive, and our Facebook page has 5600 followers. We advocated for last session’s bill to ban child marriage in MA and were frustrated and disappointed when the bill never made it out of committee.

This session we are now supporting the bill, S.24, An Act to End Child Marriage in Massachusetts, sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler.

We are aware that MA is has one of the worst laws regarding child marriage restrictions. Whenever we share the statistics in MA – statistics which we know you are now aware – regarding child marriage in MA with our members and followers, the information gets a lot of attention and anger.

The fact that our laws now allow what amounts to the legalization of statutory rape, is abhorrent. Further when a young woman is married, she is more likely to become pregnant and her pregnancy, her health and her child are at greater risk, her access to services is limited because of her age and she 50% more likely to drop out of school. These issues all lead to a higher likelihood of poverty and a poor quality of life.

MA must go from having the one of the worst state laws that do not protect these young women, to becoming one of the leaders in addressing this issue. Arguments about protecting cultural practices and religious practices are ignorant of the consequences to our most vulnerable citizens.

We urge your committee to release S.24 with a favorable report. Please move it forward.

Thank you for your consideration of this bill. Although our leadership cannot be at the hearing, please consider this letter our testimony.

Protect our children. Allow them to reach their full potential!


Cape Cod Women for Change Leadership Group:
Janet Joakim, Centerville, Penny Duby, Falmouth
Laurie Veninger, Truro, Sheila Mulcahy, Marstons Mills
Meaghan Mort, Sandwich, Wendy Bone, Falmouth

let them full potential.png

If you see errors or omissions in this post please contact CapeCodWomenforChange@gmail.com

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  • House chair email was undeliverable.

    Amanda Murphy, RN, BA, HN-BC, HSMI, CCAPwww.wellnesspaths.com 508.862.6395 The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any – Alice Walker

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