State lawmakers propose ban on child marriages in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two state lawmakers are proposing a ban on child marriages in Tennessee.

During a news conference Monday, Senator Jeff Yarbro of Nashville and Representative Darren Jernigan of Old Hickory discussed legislation to require people getting married to be at least 18.

Yarbro said Tennessee lets children under 18 get married, often to adults and in situations that could be characterized as statutory rape or rape of a child. He says some girls as young as 10 have been allowed to marry adult men.

The Pew Research Center says 5.5 of every 1,000 15- to 17-year-olds in Tennessee were married from 2010 to 2014, ranking in the top 10 nationally.

Yarbro says only parental consent is enough for 16 and 17-year-olds to marry, while younger children need approval of a county judge or elected official.