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Delaware becomes first state to ban child marriage

Delaware becomes first state to ban child marriage

Delaware has become the first state to ban child marriage.

Gov. John CarneyJohn Charles CarneyDelaware bans gay conversion therapy New Jersey governor signs sports betting into law GOP New Hampshire governor signs law banning gay conversion therapy MORE (D) signed the measure into law on Wednesday, setting the minimum age for marriage in the state at 18, WDEL reported.

The law went into effect immediately. Under past law, minors in the state could be married at any age with the approval of a judge.

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State Rep. Kimberly Williams (D), who sponsored the legislation, celebrated the new law.

“Now that we have closed this loophole in Delaware law, children will be protected from forced marriage and its dangerous consequences," she said, according to WDEL. "I am so proud that Delaware is leading the way to protect children, and I hope that other states follow suit.”

The move is part of a growing trend by state legislatures across the country to address child marriage, with minors who are married often feeling forced into wedlock.

An analysis by "Frontline" found that more than 207,000 people under the age of 18 were married between 2000 and 2014 in the U.S.

New York, Connecticut, Texas and Florida have all passed laws over the past year raising the minimum age to marry.