Will the next governor oppose child marriage in Ohio?

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Current Ohio law allows children to marry at any age if they get court and parent approval — something Democrat Richard Cordray says should be changed and Republican Mike DeWine is open to studying.

“Rich Cordray is opposed to child marriage and strongly supports full equality for women in the marriage age, workplace pay, and every other facet of life,” said Cordray campaign spokeswoman Christina Freundlich. Cordray opposes allowing marriage before age 18, she said.

DeWine campaign spokesman Josh Eck said DeWine is opposed to child marriage and is open to reviewing legislative changes but doesn’t think doesn’t think all marriage under age 18 should be prohibited.

“The General Assembly should draw a resonable line where, for example, an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old who might be expecting a child wouldn’t face legal barriers to marrying with their families’ consent, while also preventig the disturbing scenario where a 60-year-old tries to marry a 14-year-old,” Eck said of DeWine’s position.

Both candidates are running for governor on a pro-kid agenda.

Current Ohio law requires brides to be at least 16 and grooms to be at least 18, but exceptions are made for younger, pregnant teens if they have parental consent and juvenile court approval. That effectively means there is no legal minimum age for marriage in Ohio.

The Daily News investigation found that between 2000 and 2015, 4,443 girls age 17 or younger were married, including 59 who were 15 or younger. In one case, a Gallia County judge allowed a 14-year-old pregnant girl to marry a 48-year-old man in 2002 — 15 years later, they are still married.

Related: Investigation: Should children be allowed to marry? In Ohio, thousands do

Related: At 14, Ohio woman married 48-year-old man; says she would do it again

In June, the Ohio House voted unanimously for a House Bill 511, which would raise the marriage age to 18 and allow 17-year-olds to marry under some conditions, including a 14-day waiting period and juvenile court consent.

Related: Ohio lawmakers vote to raise marriage age after Dayton Daily News investigation

The bill is pending in the Senate where it is expected to receive hearings this fall.

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