Protest in support of ending child marriage
A chain-in organized by advocates of ending child marriage (Photo courtesy of Unchained At Last)

The Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives wast­ed no time today get­ting down to busi­ness and tak­ing action on one of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s 2024 leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties, vot­ing unan­i­mous­ly on open­ing day to pass leg­is­la­tion that would put an end to child mar­riage in the Ever­green State.

All nine­ty-eight Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tives cast votes this after­noon in favor of State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mon­i­ca Stonier’s leg­is­la­tion to set a min­i­mum age of eigh­teen for both par­ties to legal­ly marry.

Stonier had pitched her col­leagues on mak­ing House Bill 1455 a pri­or­i­ty for ear­ly action, and they respond­ed enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly. As a con­se­quence, the bill is now head­ed to the Sen­ate, where Law & Jus­tice Chair Man­ka Dhin­gra, a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber, is pre­pared to hear it.

Remark­ably, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Walsh, now the Chair of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, joined Stonier in deliv­er­ing a floor speech urg­ing that the bill receive the sup­port of every mem­ber of the House of Representatives.

No mem­bers were absent or excused, so we can say that every sin­gle one of Wash­ing­ton State’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives is on the record in sup­port of HB 1455. That’s just fan­tas­tic. And it reflects the tremen­dous sup­port our research has found for end­ing child mar­riage — 80% of like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port this bill.

Here’s the unan­i­mous roll call on HB 1455:

Roll Call
HB 1455
Child mar­riage
3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 98

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Abbarno, Alvara­do, Barkis, Barnard, Bate­man, Berg, Bergquist, Berry, Bronoske, Caldier, Callan, Cham­bers, Chan­dler, Chap­man, Cheney, Chopp, Chris­t­ian, Con­nors, Cor­ry, Cortes, Cou­ture, Davis, Dent, Doglio, Don­aghy, Duerr, Dye, Enten­man, Eslick, Fari­var, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Fos­se, Goehn­er, Good­man, Gra­ham, Gregerson, Grif­fey, Hack­ney, Har­ris, Hutchins, Jacob­sen, Klick­er, Klo­ba, Kretz, Leav­itt, Lekanoff, Low, Macri, May­cum­ber, McClin­tock, McEn­tire, Mena, Mor­gan, Mos­bruck­er, Nance, Orcutt, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Peter­son, Pol­let, Ramel, Ramos, Reed, Reeves, Ric­cel­li, Robert­son, Rude, Rule, Ryu, San­dlin, San­tos, Schmick, Schmidt, Senn, Shavers, Sim­mons, Slat­ter, Springer, Stearns, Steele, Stokes­bary, Stonier, Street, Tay­lor, Thai, Tharinger, Tim­mons, Volz, Walen, Walsh, Waters, Wilcox, Wylie, Ybar­ra, Jinkins

Now that HB 1455 has been sent back across the rotun­da, the next step is a hear­ing in Sen­ate Law & Jus­tice. The bill then needs a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion to be sent up to Sen­ate Rules. From there it will need to be pulled to the floor and be select­ed for bill action by Sen­ate lead­er­ship. Giv­en how much bipar­ti­san sup­port the bill has, this ought to be sim­ple — but it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that HB 1455 stalled out last year due to time con­straints, a reminder that even non­con­tro­ver­sial bills can get stymied in the bicam­er­al leg­isla­tive process.

We’re work­ing with the Wash­ing­ton Coali­tion to End Child Mar­riage to ensure that does­n’t hap­pen again. 2024 is the year to get this done! If you’re inter­est­ed in sup­port­ing the cause, we invite you to join us on Jan­u­ary 18th in Olympia, when our friends at Unchained At Last will be hold­ing what they call a chain-in — a demon­stra­tion to call for an end to child mar­riage — on the steps of the domed Leg­isla­tive Build­ing on the Capi­tol Cam­pus. Unchained At Last has held many chain-ins in oth­er states, and this month, it’s Wash­ing­ton’s turn!

If you would like to par­tic­i­pate in the chain-in, please reg­is­ter here.

Details from Unchained At Last:

Child mar­riage is an urgent prob­lem in Wash­ing­ton. Dan­ger­ous legal loop­holes allow par­ents to enter a child of any age into mar­riage with­out any input required from the child, and with­out any real legal recourse for a child who does not want to marry.

Some 5,048 minors as young as 13 were entered into mar­riage in Wash­ing­ton between 2000 and 2021. More than 80% were girls wed to adult men, and between 38 and 51 mar­riages occurred with a spousal age dif­fer­ence that met the def­i­n­i­tion of a sex crime.

Fur­ther­more, child mar­riage cre­ates a night­mar­ish legal trap that destroys near­ly every aspect of an Amer­i­can girl’s life. There’s a rea­son the Unit­ed State Depart­ment has called mar­riage before eigh­teen a “human rights abuse.”

This calls for a protest.

We will Chain-In in Olympia on Jan­u­ary 18th. We will wear bridal gowns and chains to urge leg­is­la­tors to pass SB 5695 / HB 1455, the sim­ple bill that would end child mar­riage in Washington.

Speak­ers include:

  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mon­i­ca Stonier, leg­isla­tive champion
  • Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, leg­isla­tive champion
  • Sen­a­tor Derek Stan­ford, leg­isla­tive champion
  • Stephanie War­ren, sur­vivor & advocate
  • Sara Tas­neem, child mar­riage advo­cate and survivor
  • Kate Yang, child mar­riage advo­cate and survivor
  • Kather­ine Cleland​, Zon­ta USA
  • Michele Hanash, AHA Foundation
  • Fraidy Reiss, Unchained At Last

We also will sing and chant against forced and child mar­riage, includ­ing a ren­di­tion of The Girls You Have Destroyed, a chill­ing poem/song we wrote about child mar­riage in the Unit­ed States.

Chain-In Olympia
Jan­u­ary 18 | 11:30 a.m.
North Steps of the Wash­ing­ton State Capitol
416 Sid Sny­der Ave. SW, Olympia, WA 98504

Again, the link to reg­is­ter is here if you’d like to join us.

Big thanks to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Stonier for secur­ing floor time for this impor­tant bill on the first day of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion, and earn­ing the votes of every sin­gle one of her nine­ty-sev­en col­leagues! It’s on to the Senate.

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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