Alyssa Milano Criticizes California Democrat Over Child Marriage Bill Amendments

Actress and political activist Alyssa Milano has criticized a California Democrat for his proposed amendments to an assembly bill in April, which blocked it from advancing to the Judiciary Committee.

Child marriage, while a taboo subject in the U.S., is permitted under certain circumstances in several states, including California. This typically occurs with the approval of a judge or a parent or guardian. In California, there is no minimum age requirement for marriage as long as there is consent from a parent or guardian and a judge.

In February, the California state assembly proposed a bill to prohibit marriage for individuals under 18. However, Milano—who helped launch the #MeToo movement—and Fraidy Reiss, a forced marriage survivor and founder of Unchained At Last, wrote an opinion piece for the Mercury News accusing Assemblymember Ash Kalra of proposing amendments that prevented the bill from reaching a hearing at the Judiciary Committee.

Milano and Reiss highlighted that more than 8,000 minors are married in California each year, most of them young girls. “Child marriage gives a ‘get out of jail free’ card to would-be child rapists because statutory rape within marriage is not a crime. Child marriage is a harmful practice that devastates sexual and reproductive rights,” they argued.

The opinion piece alleged that Kalra was influenced by arguments from liberal organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the Children’s Law Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which opposed prohibiting child marriage. These organizations expressed strange concerns that imposing an age requirement on marriage could hinder a minor’s ability to seek an abortion, among other issues.

“Their arguments are perplexing. They claim banning child marriage would drive minors in abusive relationships ‘underground,’ out of reach of social services,” Milano and Reiss wrote. “Does anyone believe a minor in an abusive dating relationship benefits from marrying their abuser? Or that a minor with abusive parents can access social services only if their parents enter them into marriage?”