80% of likely Washington voters want to set a minimum age to marry
Visualization of NPI's poll finding on House Bill 1455, legislation to end child marriage in Washington State (NPI graphic)

Eight out of ten like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton vot­ers are sup­port­ive of adopt­ing leg­is­la­tion that would put an end to child mar­riages in the Ever­green State, a poll recent­ly con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

80% of 700 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers sur­veyed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI in Novem­ber of 2023 expressed sup­port for enact­ing leg­is­la­tion that would require both par­ties to be at least eigh­teen years old to legal­ly marry.

A mere 14% were opposed, while 6% said they were not sure.

It’s very rare that we find the vot­ing pub­lic in Wash­ing­ton this unit­ed behind pend­ing state-lev­el leg­is­la­tion, but it goes to show that even in polar­ized times, there are areas of bipar­ti­san, cross-ide­o­log­i­cal agreement.

End­ing child mar­riage is one of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s 2024 leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties, and it has a first-rate cham­pi­on in State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mon­i­ca Stonier, who intro­duced House Bill 1455 last session.

Fit­ting­ly, HB 1455 received no oppo­si­tion what­so­ev­er when it appeared on the House floor last year, reflect­ing the deep and strong sup­port for end­ing child mar­riage that we can now see in our research polling.

Regret­tably, HB 1455 stalled out in the Sen­ate due to a mas­sive log­jam of bills that sen­a­tors weren’t able to ful­ly clear due to time constraints.

(Unlike Con­gress, Wash­ing­ton’s bicam­er­al Leg­is­la­ture is only in active reg­u­lar ses­sion for 105 days in odd years and 60 days in even years.)

But since bills from odd year ses­sions car­ry over to even year ses­sions, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Stonier does­n’t have to start over with a new bill. The House can sim­ply send HB 1455 back over to the Sen­ate a sec­ond time, where Law & Jus­tice Chair Man­ka Dhin­gra — a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber — is ready to hear it and report it out with a “do pass” recommendation.

HB 1455 could be on Gov­er­nor Inslee’s desk in a mat­ter of weeks if the Sen­ate fol­lows the House­’s lead this time and approves the bill unanimously.

Our research shows Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are very enthu­si­as­tic about HB 1455.

Here’s the exact ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: Wash­ing­ton State cur­rent­ly does not pro­hib­it mar­riages in which one or both par­ties are under the age of eigh­teen. Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose pass­ing a law to end child mar­riage by requir­ing that both par­ties be at least eigh­teen years old to legal­ly marry?

ANSWERS:

  • Sup­port: 80% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 64%
    • Some­what sup­port: 16%
  • Oppose: 14%
    • Some­what oppose: 8%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 6%
  • Not sure: 6%

Our sur­vey of 700 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Novem­ber 14th through Wednes­day, Novem­ber 15th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (42%) and online answers from respon­dents recruit­ed by text (58%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Child mar­riage has been declared by the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of State to be a human rights vio­la­tion. Yet, in much of the coun­try, it’s legal — includ­ing in all of the states in the Pacif­ic North­west. That needs to change.

So far, ten states have banned child mar­riage. Those are:

  • Delaware (2018)
  • New Jer­sey (2018)
  • Penn­syl­va­nia (2020)
  • Min­neso­ta (2020)
  • Rhode Island (2021)
  • New York (2021)
  • Mass­a­chu­setts (2022)
  • Ver­mont (2023)
  • Con­necti­cut (2023)
  • Michi­gan (2023)

All of those states are in the Great Lakes, New Eng­land, or mid-Atlantic regions. Wash­ing­ton could become the first state in the Amer­i­can West to ban child mar­riage if House Bill 1455 is successful.

Wash­ing­ton has a his­to­ry of human rights lead­er­ship, includ­ing the suc­cess­ful repeal of the death penal­ty. Let’s con­tin­ue that lead­er­ship in 2024 by mak­ing sure the Ever­green State becomes the next state to end child marriage.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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