ALBANY, New York (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation raising the age of consent to be married in New York State to 18.
"This administration fought hard to successfully end child marriage in New York and I'm proud to sign this legislation to strengthen our laws and further protect vulnerable children from exploitation," Cuomo said. "Children should be allowed to live their childhood and I thank the many legislators and advocates who worked diligently to advance this measure and further prevent forced marriages in this state."
The new measure builds upon legislation eliminating child marriage that the governor signed in 2017 by removing the ability for 17-year-olds to be married with parental and judicial consent.
"Regardless of maturity level, minors lack sufficient legal rights and autonomy that they need to protect them if they enter a marriage contract before becoming adults," Senator Julia Salazar said. "The vast majority of minors who enter a marriage are teenage girls, and getting married before adulthood often has devastating consequences for them. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill to finally prohibit child marriage without exceptions in New York, and commend the continued work of Unchained At Last in advocating to prohibit child marriage nationwide."
The legislation, named after a survivor who was forced into child marriage, takes effect 30 days after becoming law and will apply to licenses issued after that date and marriages that had not been solemnized prior to that date.
"The cruel and callous practice of child marriage has traumatized too many children to count," Assembly Member Phil Ramos said. "Nalia's Law, which will raise the age of consent for marriage to 18 and prohibit marriage if either person is underage, is named after one brave survivor of forced child marriage who I was lucky enough to meet. With the passage of this crucial legislation, minors in New York will be further protected from this predatory practice, and we can prevent stories like Nalia's from repeating themselves."
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