Florida Senate passes bill to ban child marriages

A bride at age 11, Sherry Johnson waits for a bill ending child marriage. January 31, 2018. (Photo by Mike Vasilinda)
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida is taking a major step toward ending child marriages.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would ban the marriage of anyone under the age of 18.

Watching the vote from the public gallery was Sherry Johnson, who was 11 when she was forced to marry her 20-year-old rapist.

Johnson has worked six years to try to change Florida's marriage laws.

Florida doesn't allow anyone under the age of 18 to independently consent to marriage. Children aged 16 and 17 can marry with the consent of both children's parents. But if there's a pregnancy involved, there is no minimum age for marriage as long as a judge approves the marriage license.

A House bill has its final committee stop Thursday before it can be considered by the full chamber.