MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Women in bridal gowns and chains gathered at the State Capitol on Thursday. They’re protesting Minnesota laws that allow 16 and 17-year-olds to marry with parental and judicial approval.

“Child marriage prevents young people like me from reaching their full potential in life,” said Eden Prairie High School student Claire Willet. “If children who are 16 or 17 are barred from using alcohol, getting tattoos or even voting, why should they be able to enter into a lifetime contract of marriage?”

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Eden Prairie High School Senior Clair Willett was among those who staged this protest at the Capitol.

State law already bans marriage for anyone 15 years old and younger.

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On Thursday, Senator Sandy Pappas and Rep. Kaohly Her unveiled the End Child Marriage Bill. The legislation eliminates provisions allowing marriages by minors.

“We cannot allow the exploitation of our most vulnerable Minnesotans to continue,” said Rep. Her, author of the House bill which passed unanimously in the House in 2019. “Not only does child marriage cut childhoods short, it puts minors at higher risk of abuse, poverty and life-long physical and mental health challenges.”

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Marriage before 18 remains legal in 48 U.S. states.