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Announcement Topic: Legislation & Advocacy

Governor Baker Signs Child Marriage Bill

It is official, and the Justice of the Peace Association is deeply honored to witness the momentous and long-overdue occasion. On September 9, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker ceremoniously signed the bill that ended child marriage in the state of Massachusetts.

After the private bill signing, speeches and celebration followed on the interior steps of the State House. It was an exciting day recognizing all of the hard work that went into protecting the state’s children from the human rights abuse of child marriage.

Photos

  • JPus managing member Loretta Jay with Representative Kay Khan. Rep Khan and Senator Harriet Chandler led the legislative efforts for six years until the bill finally passed.
  • The ceremonial pen
  • Governor Baker with legislators and advocates
  • JPus Managing Member Loretta Jay with the Unchained at Last crowd: Executive Director Fraidy Reiss, Samantha Marder and Becca Powell.
  • Fierce advocates: Senator Chandler, Survivor Jenn, Representative Khan, Representative Ruth Balser

Loretta Jay and Rep Kay Khan at bill signing to end child marriage in Massachusetts

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Khan Thanks Coalition to End Child Marriage

Rep Kay Khan led the charge to end child marriage in the stateThe Justice of the Peace Association is a founding member of the national Coalition to End Child Marriage. In addition, JPus is an active member of state coalitions with the same name.

Representative Kay Khan

We are grateful for Massachusetts State Representative Kay Khan ‘s leadership to end child marriage in the Commonwealth. Nonetheless, she thanks us! On May 31, 2022 she sent the following thanks and update to JPus and other Coalition members.

Dear Members of the Massachusetts Coalition to End Child Marriage,
Please know that I am exceedingly grateful to all of you who helped create and support the legislation which became H.1709/S.937,  An Act to End Child Marriage in Massachusetts, filed this session by myself, Representative Paul Donato and Senator Harriette Chandler.
As you now know, as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 House Budget debate, H.1709 was filed as a budget amendment to the House Budget by House Minority Leader Bradley Jones and ultimately adopted.
The response to this bill has been overwhelmingly positive with strong bipartisan support and I truly believe the monthly meetings of the coalition were instrumental in drawing attention to the need to move the bill forward and hopefully across the finish line soon.
The final passage will be debated in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget House-Senate Conference Committee. If passed, the bill will close the loophole in Massachusetts allowing for child marriage with parental and judicial consent and will empower children in the Commonwealth.
Thank you again, for your hard work and commitment to this important issue.
Kay Khan
State Representative
11th Middlesex District (Newton)
State House, Room 167
Boston, MA 02133
617.722.2230

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Politics of Child Marriage

Challenges getting legislation passed to end child marriageJPus’ managing member, Loretta Jay, was interviewed about the politics that affect legislation to end child marriage. A visiting fellow from Turkey, Dr. Senem Ertan-Savas is the lead investigator of the study. She is with the  Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

This research will systematically examine the dynamics of legislation to increase the age of marriage in different states. Furthermore, it will also investigate the debates around minimum age of marriage and the interaction between actors or factors involved in the legislation processes.

“It’s exciting that the Justice of the Peace Association’s advocacy efforts to end child marriage are recognized and included in this important research,” says Loretta Jay.  One area Dr. Ertan-Savas asked about is the strategies JPus thinks are  the most effective. (Answer: mobilizing constituents and behind the scenes work to resolve potential roadblocks.) Indeed, one of the most frustrating and sad realizations is when legislation to end child marriage stalls – even though there is no lobby opposing it.

When finished, the work will be submitted for publication in a scientific journal. Furthermore, a book is also in the works. Of course, JPus will share the published work when ready.

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Survey – Officiant Qualifications & Appointments

Each state has a different process to appoint marriage officiants. We frequently hear about problems in Connecticut. There, justice of the peace appointments are political – even though there is nothing political about the role. The resulting problems are multifold, as evidenced by the many complaints reported to JPus from our members. In response, JPus is working with legislators and the Secretary of the State’s office and interviewing stakeholders. The plan is to formulate the research into a white paper to enact legislative change.

A related matter is qualifications – especially when comparing professionals with amateurs officiants.  At JPus we oftentimes hear from members who suggest that training should be required before someone performs a wedding. Please tell us your opinion by completing our survey.

1-Day Solemnizer – Calls Needed

Massachusetts Call to Action

A hearing on the Resolve to establish a Commission to evaluate the 1-Day Solemnizer rule will be held on Tuesday, September 22, 2021. Calls are needed to Committee Chairs to vote S.2063 favorably out of Committee. Details, including Committee Chairs’ phone numbers and a simple script are available on our Action Alert page.

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Maine raises age to wed

Children must be 16 to marry in Maine

Not quite what we were hoping for, but a step in the right direction. The minimum age to marry in Maine is now 16. Prior to this new law going into effect on January 1, 2020, any child, no matter how young, was allowed to marry if their parent and a probate judge approved.

Partners: Unchained At Last

JPus announces a new partnership with a national non-profit working to end child marriages.

Unchained at Last is dedicated to creating social, policy and legal change to end forced and child marriage in America. It helps women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives. JPus recognizes the ethical dilemma marriage officiants would find themselves in if asked to perform a child marriage. Our members have clearly stated their opposition to child marriages. Read more.

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