Few people in the U.S. would publicly advocate the need for children as young as 12 to marry; yet, Governor Chris Christie not only believes religious freedom erases Western mores about child marriage, he codified that personal belief for New Jersey residents — by vetoing a bill which would have banned the practice, outright.

“I agree that protecting the well-being, dignity, and freedom of minors is vital,” Christie opined, “but the severe bar this bill creates is not necessary to address the concerns voiced by the bill’s proponents and does not comport with the sensibilities and, in some cases, the religious customs, of the people of this State.”

Christie stunned lawmakers in his conditional refusal to sign into law A3091, which would have barred “persons under age 18 from marrying or entering into a civil union,” according to its text.

According to Politico, Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz — a legislator from Christie’s own party — led sponsorship of the bill, which garnered virtually full support from the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, after hearing “compelling” anecdotal testimony from minors who had been forced into marriage under religious pretenses.

Nevertheless, Christie proffered religion as a central focus to rubber-stamping the continuation of legal child marriage in his state.

“Underage marriage is widespread in the United States, where about 170,000 children were wed between 2000 and 2010 in 38 of the 50 states where data was available, according to activists,” Reuters reports.


“Although age 18 is the minimum for marriage in most of the nation, every state has legal loopholes allowing children to wed.”

Indeed, definitive reasons may exist for minors to marry — opposition cited pregnancy or that 17-year-olds may enlist in the military with parental consent — but the law as it stands allows children under the age of 16 to wed with permission of a family court judge.

“An exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions,” Christie explained.

While maturity cannot be dictated by age, detractors feel the potential for abuse, mental health concerns, and the inherent rights of minors overwhelmingly preclude the dictates of any religious doctrine — leaving the legality of underage marriage untouched while exceptions are debated seems unwise.

Reuters notes, “Studies have shown that child marriage is associated with mental health problems, poverty and increased high school drop-out rates.”

“The shocking truth is that child marriage is legal right now in New Jersey, and it’s shocking that thousands of children have been married here recently, most of them minor girls married to adult men,” Fraidy Reiss, executive director of the nonprofit Unchained At Last, told the state’s Assembly last year.

Reiss also noted, reports Politico, “that almost 3,500 marriages involving at least one partner under 18 took place in New Jersey from 1995 to 2012. Of those, 163 involved at least one spouse 15 or younger. Most were religious arranged marriages.”

New Jersey isn’t alone, by far, in allowing teens — and, in some instances, preteens — to wed, though Americans would be shocked at a comparison to the rest of the planet.

Although the age at which each state allows exceptions for minors to marry varies greatly, several, including Massachusetts, will give the green light for the marriage of children as young as 12 to a partner — but that prospective spouse rarely also is underage.

Most often, child marriages involve underage adolescent girls and men decades their senior.

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“In Virginia itself,” The Independent reported in March, “according to state health statistics, more than 4,500 minors were married between 2000 and 2013, including about 220 who were 15 or younger.”

That any of the United States permit 12-year-olds to wed puts the nation on a questionable level matched only by war-torn Yemen and opprobrious human rights-abuser, Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, anti-choice activists rallied against the bill under the auspices pregnant youth should be allowed to marry under because it would be better for offspring.

Although the governor’s refusal to sign A3091 leaves New Jersey in line with multiple U.S. states on the topic, his conditional veto came with the proposal to ban marriage entirely for those under 16 years of age and require consent from a judge before 16- and 17-year-olds could wed.

“It is disingenuous to hold that a 16-year-old may never consent to marriage, although New Jersey law permits the very same 16-year-old to consent to sex or obtain an abortion without so much as parental knowledge, let alone consent,” Christie, quoted by Politico, asserted in the veto. “That inconsistency in logic undercuts the alleged logic of an outright ban.”

Munoz — bewildered, disappointed, and unsure precisely how to proceed — retained measured optimism in the governor’s suggestions that the restrictions on child marriage may still find their way into the New Jersey law books.

“It’s not an absolute veto, which is good,” she told Reuters.

Christie would likely sign the bill into law should legislators append its text to include his recommendations on age-specific exceptions.

“I thought it was a good bill,” Munoz continued. “I thought it was OK to be first in the country on this.”

Claire Bernish began writing as an independent, investigative journalist in 2015, with works published and republished around the world. Not one to hold back, Claire’s particular areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy, analysis of international affairs, and everything pertaining to transparency and thwarting censorship. To keep up with the latest uncensored news, follow her on Facebook or Twitter: @Subversive_Pen.
  • The Cat’s Vagina

    Perverted bullshit! (Not you, Ms. Bernish.)

    • Diane

      Ms Bernish is being deceitful in this article. The actual disagreement is that Christie wants to allow 16 & 17 year-olds to be married with court approval. That’s all. It’s click-bait.

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        16 & 17-year-olds are still CHILDREN. If not, they’d be allowed to vote and run away from home and order a martini at the pub. The only way I’d be even remotely OK with this “exception” is if it only applied when BOTH spouses are under 18, but we both know that’s not the case, so why don’t you shut your fucking dick hole and stop supporting the kind of people who want to enslave teenage girls to dirty old white men?

        • Sally McWoozy

          I think it really does take someone who’s been there to really know. I am reading this in sheer horror as you are coming across as having the logic that people seem to be missing. I wasn’t mature enough at 16, 17 – or 20 for that matter but I was lucky to have a loving family. It most certainly is not better for a child to be born into an abusive relationship than to have one parent who loves and cares for them. I was married, much older than you, my husband was physically and mentally abusive; when our daughter was 3 he threatened to kill both of us and I believed him. 7 years on and 2000 miles of separation, both me and our daughter are doing great – no girl should be forced to marry and any girl that seeks to do so should receive counselling just to give her the best chance of making the right decision for her. I appreciate people have different views to me. Good wishes to you and yours.

          • The Cat’s Vagina

            Thank you for understanding why I’m so horrified at the attitudes I’m seeing. It is absolutely DISGUSTING and all kinds of hypocritical for society to look at a 16-year-old girl and tell her “you can’t vote, can’t enter into any kind of legally binding financial contract, can’t just walk away and leave if your parents are abusive, can’t join the military, can’t buy a pack of cigarettes or a beer or a bottle of cough medicine because you’re not yet old enough to make those kind of important decisions. But hey, cheer up… some old dude wants to call ‘dibs for life’ on that tight little pussy ya got there, so NOW we trust you to make a lifelong, adult commitment.”

  • Susan Lindauer

    There’s got to be controls. Opportunities for coercion & forced marriages are awful in the immigrant culture. These young girls cannot speak in their voice. They depend on us for protection. If 18 is not the right age, then 16 and younger certainly is. I applaud New Jersey Rep. Munoz for the effort. Hopefully she’ll fiddle with the age limits, and present the legislation again.

    • Diane

      That is exactly what Christie is suggesting. The article is very misleading and poorly written. It’s click-bait. Take away message: don’t belieev Claire Bernish.

  • The Cat’s Vagina

    “We let them fuck and get abortions, so why not let them get married?”

    That’s some pretty appalling logic there. Here’s how I see it: marriage is a civil contract, one that is (supposedly) lifelong in nature. Why do we protect children under 18 from getting screwed by companies like Verizon, but have no interest in protecting them from being (far more literally) screwed by horny old men? As the article pointed out, 99% of child marriages are old men marrying young girls.

    I’m a survivor of child marriage… albeit not of the forced or arranged variety. I married an abusive monster at 16 (when he was 25) to escape from an abusively dysfunctional home situation. There was no “easy answer” in that case, as forbidding my marriage would only have made me resort to more desperate measures. Since my pseudo-religious mom was all “no child of mine is going to live in sin,” then I guess maybe it was a forced marriage of sorts. I would have been MUCH happier just to live with the guy, but “custody” had to be handed over and that couldn’t be done without a shotgun wedding.

    Woohoo for the sanctity of marriage! *spits on the fucking floor*

    • Diane

      This is one case of the article being misleading. Christie wants the bill changed to allow for court approved marriages for 16 and 17 year-olds. Nobody is suggesting that 12-year-olds should marry. It’s click-bait.

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        That still doesn’t answer my question of why we don’t let kids under 18 enter into short-term financial contracts, but are fine with letting them sign up to be someone’s dick puppet for the rest of their lives before they’re even old enough to vote.

        There should be no “court-approved” marriages for children. Do you think there should be?

        • D P

          If they can consent to sex and join the military then they should be able to enter contact to Verizon as well. Military is a harder contact to break than marriage is.

      • firedancer13

        I agree with you; it is click bait. In all my years…never have I met any 12, 13, or 14 year old individuals who were married off to old men. With the exception of the Mormon cults in Montana and Arizona, the idea of children marrying anyone over 18 is considered a taboo, but don’t tell these sensationalist writers of these scandal rags that!

        • Kweden

          Actually, there are thousands in each and every state, and it is usually with religions most americans are completely ignorant of–like Muslim. Recently (maybe n. jersey) a 56 year old muslim man raped his petite framed new bride of 9 years old to death. That is right, she was forced to marry a 56 year old fat ugly smelly hairy man before she was even old enough to grow peach fuzz on her peaches….and she died from repeated sexual acts and rape. This happens more than anyone knows, and the bodies are disposed of the same day (in line with Muslim beliefs) and the men are sometimes sent back to their countries. This one I mention, was a naturalized American dual citizen. This is the main reason for the outrage of forced child marraige, it is a guise for pedophilia prostitution and slavery.

  • Abz B Zbas

    Misleading headline, disturbing story.

  • Joe LaPorte

    Yep pretty sure it’s a Muslim thing.

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      Nope. It’s all up in the Old Testament.

      • Dan Quixoté

        No, it’s not. Nowhere is marital age listed anywhere in what Christians call the Old Testament, which Jews call the Tanakh. Nor is it in the New Testament, either. Just checked again on this point to confirm lest I mess up. You’ll see ages for military and priestly duties, and in genealogies for when the guys in important lineages has their first kid. But never marriage – the idea being “use your head, folks”, which would seem to be in agreement with you. The Jewish Mishna discusses marital age, though – but that’s just oral tradition.

  • Diane

    The discussion is ridiculous when words like “children” and “underage” are used. If we are going to discuss this intelligently we have to use specifics. The debate is two simple questions, “what age should people be allowed to marry with court approval” and “what age should people be allowed to marry without court approval.” Christie’s answer is 16 and 18. While the entire tone of this article sounds like Christie is being wildly liberal in his protection of the rights of children, the truth is that his request for modification is reasonable. Why misrepresent the facts? Click bait?

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      In what circumstance do you think it’s OK for a 16-year-old to get married… if the (much older) guy who’s trying to marry her just really really wants to have legal, God-approved sex?

      This is little more than a legal protection for super-religious families who are QUITE willing to force their daughter to marry the first boy they catch her fucking. Nuts like that always have a pastor ready to “do God’s work.”

      Why the fuck are you arguing so hard to excuse and condone these people? You seem awful persnickety about these kind of people being perceived as pedophile enablers… the accusation hit a little too close to home for you?

      • john robel


  • JW Mack

    The government should Not even be in the marriage business. We don’t need their consent or their approval. And no we aren’t talking about 12 year olds. Stop with the misleading stories FTP.

  • john robel

    Hillbilly girl asks her Pa for 20 dollars so she can go the concert. Pa says” well yeah but first you’re gonna have to suck my dick. Girl says” OK PA”, she starts her job and then asks ” Pa why does your dick taste like shit”? Pa says, “Well your brother wanted to go to the concert too”.

  • john robel

    Christie has always been on my right wing shit list. BIG FAT LYING GUTLESS POS.

  • Domina Elle

    When I was 16 and seducing a 31 year old man- who I had all but pounced on, I would’ve been pissed at anyone telling me that I couldn’t do with my body mind and life as I wanted. I had already left home at 15. I was the parent in my household. If only life were so simple that we could make laws that fit each and every person’s reality and circumstances. If only. It’s time for the government to stop policing sexuality. Time for the gov to step off MY dick.

    • palvadore

      HOLY SHITE, an American!

  • Tori Parker

    It’s time to start digging around in their closets, guaranteed he’s got at least one pedophile skeleton in there and probably has molested his own kids.

  • Ibcamn

    christie just wants law[s] in place for his muzzie friends in place when they get there,christie is throwing his country under the bus for his leftover man love for obama…this is all fucked up…and you know nothing good will come of this.only sex trafficing and child rapes and deaths,the coronors will stay busy for some time to come…..

  • Amanda Wyatt

    Sounds like child sex trafficking made legal through religion.

  • Jerry Hatfield

    Click bait trying desperately to manufacture outrage. Read the entire article and not just the banner.

  • Deborah January

    WTF is going on in USA? Lawlessness everywhere! So what’s next, 10 year old CHILDREN married to 50 years old men?? Polygamy? SHAMEFUL!!

  • Real Truth stings

    Override his veto in the legislature

  • Kweden

    He obviously doesn’t know that it is illegal for minors to have sex, it is called statutory rape, and the boy can go away for a very long time–20 years in most states. Of course, charges have to be filed, and there has to be evidence.

    Maybe someone should apply for marriage baby mills in New jersey before Christie gets his head back on. [No wonder even Trump hates that idiot.]