Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey continues to turn heads with his recent refusal to sign into law a measure banning child brides.
A high profile Republican, and one frequently in the news in addition to his staunch support of Donald Trump, Christie said such a ban would conflict with religious customs – though he declined to specify which religions he might mean.
Data courtesy Reuters notes that nearly 170,000 children wed in the ten-year period between 2000 and 2010 in the 38 American states where data was available; considering the 12 states were data was unavailable, it’s likely that well more than 20,000 children are married each year in the United States.
This despite 18 being the legal minimum wedding age in most of the country, in part because every state has various legal loopholes. The bill Christie vetoed would have been the first outright ban on marriage under the age of 18.
“An exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions,” Christie said in a statement, adding he believes judges should be able to make exemptions.
Opponents of the measure said exceptions should remain for marriages of young members of the military – 17-year-olds can enlist with parental consent – and pregnant teenagers.
If legislators make the changes Christie suggested, they could send it back to him – at which point he would potentially sign it into law.
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